Post Date: 5/13/2013
Publication: Ad Age
Even before Spoetzl Brewery introduced its Shiner brand to the New York and Philadelphia markets, word had gotten out via social media. Fans of the Texan brand – whether they were actual Texans, barbecue aficiandoes or South by Southwest alumni – had been tipped off and were quick to spread the word.
Which is no accident. Gambrinus Co., which owns Spoetzl, and longtime agency, Austin-based McGarrah Jessee, have spent years building up that fan base, often on a limited budget. Despite moving into its 42nd state, Shiner has eschewed TV advertising. Last year, Spoetzl spent less than $1 million on measured media, according to Kantar Media, which included magazine, outdoor and display advertising.
While not completely ruling out TV, head of marketing Charlie Paulette noted that it wouldn't be a very good stylistic fit for a craft-brew brand famous for its heritage of outlaw music – especially when craft-brew fans can be quick to let you know when you're "selling out." A better fit? Ambushing Heineken's official sponsorship of the Austin City Limits Music Festival a few years back. And social media, of course, which has allowed the brand to get much more mileage out of its own brand of marketing, though Mr. Paulette acknowledged that passionate social-media fans can sometimes turn on you.
Shiner has also forgone swapping out agencies, even as it's tried to broaden its reach and communicate to non-Texan drinkers – the Longhorn State accounts for 60% to 70% of sales, down from 90% a decade ago, according to Craft Business Daily – that Shiner is more than Shiner Bock and barbecue. Still, while other marketers change agencies as often as they change underwear, Mr. Paulette said that what Shiner needs is an agency that gets not only the marketer, but the tiny town of Shiner, as well as the music scene in nearby Austin. "I don't think a Chicago-based agency would do as good a job," he said.