The Craft
Elizabeth Fuhrman
Managing Editor

Brewers are planning big changes for 2008. As Beverage Industry reported in Industry Issues this month, Miller Brewing Co. will begin testing new craft-style light beers in February as part of the Miller Lite Brewers Collection.
Additionally, Anheuser-Busch is pitting its Michelob brand against craft beers. Michelob’s new advertising imitates that of Sam Adams with interviews of brewery personnel discussing craftsmanship, malt and hop selection. The campaign is completed with the tagline: “Crafting a better beer.”
A-B’s flagship brand also is transforming its message to sound more craft-like. While Bud Light plans to continue its sophomoric humor advertising, Budweiser changed its slogan to the “Great American Lager.”
Additionally, Blue Moon, the Coors-owned craft beer that grew without advertising, is changing its tune on advertising. Last year, the brand began placing print ads as well as billboards in key markets with the tagline “Artfully Crafted.”
A-B offers one explanation for the brewers’ change of hearts. The company, with its vast portfolio of imports and new introductions, feels its expansion has hurt its flagship brands. The company informed Wall Street analysts in December that its wholesalers carry 147 brands on average, more than twice as many as they carried five years ago.
While A-B is increasing ad spending on its core brands, other brands, such as Heineken, Miller Lite, Miller High Life and Michelob, entered into the New Year with new ad agencies. It makes sense that the major brewers would like to focus on their core brands. Branding through advertising is an important step to rejuvenating sales lost to increased prices, craft brewers and the wine and spirits category. Consumers might not be fooled by the major brands wearing a craft mask, but it never hurts to promote the value and quality of a product.
Brews choose
While the 2008 presidential election is making headlines, the National Beer Wholesalers Association presents its own political poll: Which of the presidential candidates would you like to have a beer with? The NBWA began its survey during the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, but voters of legal drinking age can visit to choose a candidate with whom they would like to have a beer, which it says is a chance to get to know someone better. At press time, Barack Obama, Ron Paul and John McCain were the top contenders.
Giving gratitude
The makers of 5-Hour Energy, Living Essentials, donated more than 200,000 bottles of the energy shot to U.S. troops deployed around the world. The donations were given through Living Essentials’ sponsorship of Operation Gratitude, which is a nonprofit organization that sends care packages to service members overseas. The partnership “allows us to provide troops with something they both want and need, but more importantly it lets them know how much everyone back home is thankful and appreciative of what they do for us,” says Carl Sperber, director of corporate communications for Living Essentials.
Better-for-you ’Rita
To help comply with New Year’s resolutions, mixologist Adam Seger created the LookBetterNaked Margarita. The drink combines all natural ingredients with Partida Reposdao tequila for a better-for-you cocktail. Seger’s LookBetterNaked Margarita features Sambazan Organic Acai, Partida Organic Agave Nectar, rosemary, egg white and fresh-squeezed lime juice for a drink loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and immune-boosting ingredients.
Versatile vodka
Silk Vodka showcased its versatility by helping celebrate Playboy, Disney Princesses and Cosmopolitan magazine’s bachelors. The vodka brand celebrated Silk Vodka’s debut ad in the magazine with a party held at the Playboy Lounge in Bloomingdale’s store in California. Hugh Hefner and assorted Playboy Bunnies, including Holly, Bridget and Kendra of “The Girls Next Door,” toasted with custom cocktails, including Silk Pajamas. In New York City, Silk was present for Kirstie Kelly’s Disney Princess-inspired bridal fashion show as well as Cosmopolitan magazine’s Bachelor night.
Country and Corona
Corona will join country singer Kenny Chesney on the road as the official beer sponsor of his 2008 “Poets and Pirates Tour.” Chesney says, “If you want to capture my audience, the thing that stands out is their ability to have more fun in a single day than most people have in a month — and Corona is part of those kinda lazy, hanging out with your buddies kinda days. Corona, lime, sun and a lotta laughter is a pretty great way to spend a day at the beach — or just about anywhere else.”
Spirited sale
Last month, Christie’s auction house in New York City held the first offering of fine wines and spirits in the United States since Prohibition. More than 100 lots of spirits were auctioned, including an 1811 cognac named for Napoleon. A bottle of 1926 Macallan whisky that was bottled after spending 60 years in wood barrel fetched $54,000, which makes it the most expensive bottle of Scotch ever sold at Christie’s. The auction was the first held since 1920 due to a New York state law that prohibited liquor auctions. The regulation was repealed in August.