Beer Diary Podcast episode 2: Fat Yak and Beer Marketing

Back for a second round, we have a beer which George discovered purely from its advertising. Which leads to a discussion about beer marketing in general; the history, the good and the very-very-bad indeed. We touch on a few recent controversies and try to make some sense of them from each end — George the marketing man, and me the beer nerd. We also offer a few more recommendations for things to seek out, and decide on our first recurring “segment”.

A direct download is available, as before, and there’s a podcast-specific RSS feed. I believe we’re now also available on iTunes, though I’m still trying to figure that one out… I’ve had a couple of requests for some chapter-sized downloadables, too (a bit easier to sneakily listen to at work, perhaps), and I’ll get cracking on those.

Show notes:

  • (0.40) There are two lost episodes: one very much a ‘tech demo’ / dress rehearsal, the other unfortunately largely superseded by unexpected events. DVD extras one day, maybe…
  • (1.10) Dinner was Vege Burgers, and they were great. They lead perhaps-ironically well to our Beer of the Week: Matilda Bay ‘Fat Yak’, which I do rate rather highly (as a Gateway Beer and inherently-rather-charming thing).
  • (1.55) Weirdly, I didn’t screw up the Brewery Ownership Trivia.
  • (3.20) Cuba Street is great for all sorts of reasons. Non-Wellingtonians, non-New-Zealanders and non-Earthlings should all come visit; each group seems already represented, but the more the merrier. And here’s the billboard in question.
  • (4.50) The artwork is nicely done, I think you’d have to admit.
  • (5.10) The classic Australian “pale ales” (however defined), Cooper’s Pale Ale and Little Creatures Pale Ale, are both perennial favourites of mine.
  • (6.40) Not much Canadian beer in my Diary so far, but some.
  • (7.05) We showed you the microphone last time. It’s lovely.
  • (9.05) George is chuffed to see his Nerd Points growing, getting that reference before it was even made.
  • (10.10) I love Gateway Beer. I even made them their own category on here. We’ll have to devote a Full Length Ramble to them soon.
  • (11.10) Proposals for T-shirt designs welcome.
  • (13.30) Beer’s done a lot. It’s had a lot of time to. Arguably, it invented Civilisation itself (an outrageous claim I’ll defend another day) — but it was certainly instrumental in the origin of Marketing as we know it.
  • (14.45) Pete Brown’s books and bloggings and whatnot are all tremendously readable and useful things. That’ll be your homework, if you’re unfamiliar.
  • (18.30) Brandwank really is the best word I’ve come up with for the bad end of marketing. It just seems to fit so horribly well.
  • (20.00) The first Moa I wrote up was their ‘St. Joseph Tripel’, the (non-Diary) entry for which unsubtly hints at this problem. Their Pale Ale and ‘Five Hop Winter Ale’ got Diary entries later on, during the brand overhaul.
  • (23.00) NZ$138 million, it seems. So not “nearly 200”, but still serious money.
  • (27.30) God the ‘Moa Breakfast Beer’ saga was depressing. But George (perhaps out of name-based solidarity) would also like to take me to task for unfairly knocking Mr. Lopez.
  • (29.20) Hallertau ‘Minimus’, if not the first, is still a much classier “breakfast beer”. For all sorts of reasons.
  • (31.10) Honestly, I didn’t make up the billboard about lesbians. 42 Below also got in trouble (intentionally, of course) for a homophobic (or at least boringly stereotypical) campaign in the mid 2000s. It’s sad to think that shit might still work.
  • (32.40) I get hopelessly lost in unreliable sources for these things, but: “It ain’t braggin’, if you done it” gets attributed to Walt Whitman, “It ain’t braggin’ if ya can back it up” apparently comes from baseball player ‘Dizzy’ Dean, and you often see “It ain’t braggin’, if it’s true” credited to Mohammad Ali. It’s a great point, regardless of its provenance.
  • (33.20) No, we haven’t mentioned Radler until now. That was in one of our “lost episodes”. As you can tell, we recorded this before the hearing. There should be a ruling any day now…
  • (34.45) Even if the trademark attack fails, I suspect there’s a Fair Trading Act case to be made given that “Radler”™ is 5% ABV.
  • (40.10) Seriously, everything aside, I like Moa ‘Five Hop’.
  • (41.00) The ‘ladder’ I was struggling to recall goes: Ordinary Bitter, Best Bitter, Extra Special Bitter. Martyn Cornell’s ‘Zythophile’ blog is full of great history, but I couldn’t see anything directly on this question, specifically. I should finally get around to reading his book.
  • (42.45) Croucher ‘Patriot’ got a fairly-glowing Diary entry, which included potentially-helpful links to just what the hell a “Jaffa” is, if you’re oblivious. It occurs to me that Yeastie Boys ‘PKB’ was one of my recommendations, last time. This “Black IPA” trend really has carried me along happily with it.
  • (45.50) 8 Wired ‘Underwired’ was more enjoyable in its aftertastes (given the very light feel), but spurs conversations like this — thereby giving you something to talk about while those flavours meander. That’s a clever trick.
  • (48.20) I’ll have to get a proper photo of the Croucher Pale Ale label text; that “delicious burps” line is just too perfect.
  • (49.10) Midstrength News finally finds its name, here. Long may it continue. Kegs of ‘Winter Minimus’ have arrived in the chiller at work; expect a report back soon…
  • (49.50) “Sucking a peanut-butter-sandwich through a straw; that’s hard” is a quote from Hyperman, a game from the mid-nineties which I only ever played once, but which a friend of ours (who could do the voice) liked to quote.
  • (50.15) Cue the music: ‘Shopping for Explosives’, by The Coconut Monkeyrocket.

6 thoughts on “Beer Diary Podcast episode 2: Fat Yak and Beer Marketing”

  1. One benefit of Moa purchasing taps in Auckland is that we can now drink Moa from tap in Auckland. Seriously however, they have also renovated the Corner Bar on Shortland St, so instead of besuited lawyers drinking bottles of Stella and Corona, we now have the same drinking Moa Pale Ale. Instead of paying $8 for a bottle of Steinlager Pure, for the same price I can get a bottle of Tuatara Porter. These are all good things, despite their marketing being, as you say, heavyhanded and annoying.

  2. I’m with Raffe here. The one thing that is missing from your discussion is the other side of this marketing coin; if Moa can get people to drink one craft beer, then – hopefully – said drinker will move on to other craft beers. To me, that’s only a good thing.

    The first craft beer I ever had was an Epic, purely because of the label (which, as you say, is part of the marketing). The same could happen for other people with Moa.

    It would have been nice to hear about Tuatara’s new advertising campaign (“Don’t just open a beer, open your mind”). To me, it sounds like a bad perfume advertisement.

  3. Oh, I’m all in favour of getting people into more-interesting beer. “More people drinking more good beer is… more good”, as I (weirdly) say in the episode. I just worry that Moa’s push will go too far and turn off as many people as it’ll ever turn on (or more); I suspect that anyone converted by this type of campaign is more likely to just become a different sort of one-brand, blinkered drinker; and I just don’t think it’s necessary to ever stoop to trickery or boring old stereotyping to reach people.

    Epic’s ‘brashness’, such as it is, has always been on the not-objectionable side of the line, and is — crucially — authentic. Moa’s ‘attitude’ is lame and aggravating and fake. Big, big difference. In my mind at least.

    And yeah, I’ll have to talk about Tuatara’s history of weird marketing at some point, too. I’ve never quite figured them out. That’ll also give me a good chance to rant about the silly old Reinheitsgebot, a myth of which they’ve always seemed peculiarly fond.

  4. Phil, are you back-dating the podcasts? And posting them out of order, but numbered?

    Cos that shit is going to get confusing.

  5. Yeah, kinda, unfortunately.

    The podcasts are back-dated: when a new one is ready to release, I stick a date on it that will make sure it goes to the top of the main page, but won’t stay there for weeks. The weird timing-headaches on this blog get a little strange, I know, but there wasn’t really another way to do it and keep a natural reading flow to the whole thing. I’m going to make an easily-checkable ‘Podcast’ page, though. That should help.

    But they’re posted in order, definitely. Two podcasts have fallen by the wayside entirely (one very much a dress rehearsal, the other rendered unusably obsolete — by the second big Christchurch earthquake in February, as it happens), but the this ‘Marketing’ one was the one recorded after the ‘Grey Market’ one, and it’ll be followed by the one recorded a little while ago.

    And now: to plan episode 4…

Have at it: