Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ha! This One Is About Beer Too!

It seems that I now have two posts in a row on the topic of beer. Isn't that interesting?

Of course, beer, or the enjoyment of it, is not really the point at all. The issue is how it is marketed that continues to spark my interest. The brews up for discussion this time are Coors Light and Busch Light.

I believe most are familiar with Coors' ad campaign highlighting their 'cold indicator' on each can/bottle - the mountains in their logo turn blue when the fluid is "as cold as the Rockies".

For the last few weeks on my way to work I have begun to notice Busch Light's response to this campaign from a highway billboard- the inclusion of a 'cold indicator' on their product as well. This one appearing as a thermometer - a much more direct measuring tool for temperature, I suppose.

This attempt to turn a point-of-differentiation for Coors Light into a point-of-parity for Busch Light had me thinking about both campaigns. Generic, American, mass-produced beer has a lot of competition, and not a lot of difference when it comes to taste or value. The only thing that really seems to separate the winners from losers in this fight for market share is marketing strategy.

The Coors Light ads always seemed foolish to me. Who cares about a cold indicator anyway? I know when my beverage is cold - after I put it in the refrigerator for a while. If there is any doubt, I grab the product with my hand. Those of us with working nerve endings can figure out this mystery without additional assistance. But, the campaign has seemed to have had some success. I've even had someone talk to me about how they drink Coors Light because they like their beer cold. Crazy, huh?

The reason the marketing strategy works for Coors probably has a lot to do with how they introduced it as part of their existing image. Coors Light markets their beer as the coldest, most refreshing beer around. The cold indicator expands on this by way of using the Rocky Mountains in the logo as the indicator itself. Saying that "your beer is as cold as the Rockies" when they turn blue on the label reinforces Coors' image to the consumer.

To me, it is clear that Busch Light was so focused on stealing market share away from Coors Light at any cost that their attempt to copy the marketing tool completely missed the point. For the most part, people aren't switching/remaining loyal to Coors Light because they can't tell if another brand is cold or not. And Busch literally placing a temperature gauge on their label makes it clear that they have no idea what customers are looking for. Coors Light has a campaign built around this very idea of cold and refreshing, and a logo that brings it to life. I highly doubt that anyone seeing the Busch Light ad will think "Oh, Busch Light has a cold indicator too. I guess I can buy that instead now that I can tell when it's cold". Instead they look like a company desperate to keep up and willing to copy any idea to do so. They would have been much better served to come up with a completely new idea that was nothing like Coors Light's in order to gain attention. At best, this campaign of coldness by Busch Light will be forgotten by consumers. Why? Because unlike Coors Light, there is no corresponding brand image to aid in recalling it.