Friday, November 13, 2009

On VB and Marketing – the selling thing.

Contains strong language. Which is ironic, as the beer is pretty weak.

My beer mat informs me that Victoria Bitter has a new slogan.

Victoria Bitter - VB to its friends of which it has very few publicly - is a beer. An iconic Australian beer, if by you iconic you mean “yeah mate, it’s Aussie as, but I don’t drink it coz it’s shit”.

Except they do. It’s cheap and cheerful and accounts for a third of the pre-packaged beers sales in Australia. Note that pre-packaged bit. You’d bring a VB home to quench your thirst, but you wouldn’t order it in the pub. Drinking VB is a bit like sleeping with your ex. It’s not really classy, but everyone has done it when there was nothing else available. Especially if they were already drunk and it was just hanging about at a party. It’s okay to drink, provided no one knows.

Their long standing slogan, which said VB was “for a hard-earned thirst” was at least evocative in that it reflected the product. VB is for a hard-earned thirst, because dying of semi-dehydration is one of things that makes its bland yet acidic taste semi-palatable. It’s a slogan that has served VB well, with its phenomenal sales despite being universally derided as a shit beer that isn’t even actually a bitter.

But they’re dropping it. From now on VB shall be known as – the drinking beer.

I’m sorry, what? Honestly, what genius came up with this slogan? How much did they pay some marketeer to take five seconds off complaining that on Twitter that their iPhone won’t work to come up with this particular gem? Can I have their job? I’ve always loved stating the obvious in a condescending fashion and I can come up with all sorts of things right now. Nescafe – the drinking coffee. Oxygen – the breathing gas. Myers – the shopping shop.

Quickly, someone get me a medal, because that’s three award-winning campaigns right there.

Of course it’s the drinking beer. ALL beers are the drinking beer. What the hell else do you do with them? You don’t market a brand by saying it can do thing it’s meant to, unless you can claim other products don’t do it as well. What, the other beers are dehydrated? Made of sawdust and glass chips? Contain acid and dead flies? Are currently on fucking fire? What?

Every beer is the drinking beer. Unless you are the premium luxury brand in your niche, you can’t claim ownership of the need without looking like a total twat. (And even then, you look a tad twatty, but hey, label bunnies just love that posh twat look.) All beers are for drinking. How does this differentiate your product from all the others? What the hell are they for?

You can split hairs and suggest while YOUR beer is for drinking, the other beers still have space to pick a niche – they could be the quaffing beer, or the sipping beer, or the peeing like a racehorse beer, or the beer that comes back up easy, but you are just being full of crap. It’s not “modern”, it’s not “pared-down” or “simplistic” or “a return to base values”; it’s lazy, it’s stupid and it shows your product has nothing to offer.

And the annoying thing is, with a little modification it could have been a slogan that captured the essence of Victoria Bitter and what it means to Australia. VB - the drinking when there is nothing else to drink beer. VB - the “it was free at the party” beer. The “It’s only 10am, and I’m already at a happy hour” beer, the “I drink tinnies on my lunchbreak” beer, the “this is my child support I am drinking” beer.

But no. Instead we get a slogan as bland as the beer itself. Which – despite and to spite the slogan - I won’t be drinking.

Unless, you know, there’s nothing else. Or it’s free at a party. Or I’m too drunk to notice.


  1. Maybe that's it - some brilliant marketer came up with "the drunk beer", and it clashed with that whole "drink/drunk - the difference is u" campaign from the Aus gov't's anti-drink driving campaigns.

    ...and hey, at least they didn't make it iDrink...

  2. You know, I had a mouthful of my dad's Vic Bitter when I was young - maybe ten or eleven years old? - and it has put me off beer for life.

    I can tolerate a schooner if there really is nothing else, as long as it's a decent brew... but when I turned 18, it was double vodka neats for me.

  3. "VB - Because you just don't care anymore"

  4. I salute you ! Shit product , shit campaign