American Beer TV: Beer News February 2011
MillerCoors Execs Think the Future of Craft Beer Is… MillerCoors, Basically
Pete Marino and Paul Verdu don’t care about the taste of your beer. Or, they don’t think it’s that important, anyway.
For the two MillerCoors executives it’s all about branding. In a conversation with AdAge at the recent National Beer Wholesalers Association Marino (president of MillerCoors’ craft and imports division,Tenth and Blake) and Verdu (Tenth and Blake VP of sales and marketing) offered their thoughts on independent brewers and the future they have in the beer game. These gentleman do not think it’s a rosy one for the little guys.
Shortly after the conversation took place, a campaign of the Brewer’s Association to fund the billions necessary to buy Anheuser Bush InBev — it was a joke, mostly, but it was also meant to shine a light on Big Beer’s simplification of independent beer. They even made a fun video.
Marino later shot back at the Brewer’s Association in a MillerCoors blog post, scoffing at the idea of “taking craft beer back.” “If the number of inbound calls that we are getting is any indication,” he said, “More and more independent craft brewers are open to the idea, or at the very least exploring their options to partner with a large brewer or financial partner.” Oof.
In conversation with AdAge Marino stated plainly his feeling that any brewer can’t succeed just by making a quality, good tasting beer. In his opinion, any brew operation must think about their branding and how their product can reach as many people as possible. “You’ve got to start thinking about building and driving a brand,” he said.
In Verdu’s view there are just too many beers out there. He believes folks just can’t handle going to their favorite beer cop spot and having all of these options. They need fewer choices and for the beers in front of them to have a backstory they can identify with. “We firmly believe it’s the brands that are going to win out,” he said.
So, to summarize? Branding is king. And branding, it should be noted, is just code for marketing, which is expensive and therefore off-limits to most craft brewers. Unless, of course, they get bought out by someone like MillerCoors.
Read the entire conversation over at AdAge.
This post has been updated to correct an error in the timeline of events: the conversation between AdAge and Marino/Verdu took place before the “Take Craft Back” campaign was launched.
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