Over the last week, several well-known breweries have been embroiled in marketing feuds, prompting finger-pointing and very public accusations of petty tactics.
In a series of Instagram posts, Flat Tail accused 10 Barrel, which is owned by brewing powerhouse Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), of not only stealing its tagline, but of rubbing it in by driving a semi-truck painted with the slogan outside its brewpub.
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It’s no secret you can steal a lot of intellectual property when you’ve got that sweet, sweet @anheuserbusch money, but seriously @10barrelbrewing …..did you have to drive it past our brew house?! Can’t wait to get a cease and desist for using my own slogan. XOXO – FT Dave @brewingnetwork @beerlawcenter @abinbev
In response, 10 Barrel commented on the Instagram post, claiming it had “no idea” Flat Tail used the tagline and suggesting a winner-takes-slogan boat race.
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Holy $@&! @10barrelbrewing ! You mean this whole time all we had to do to get big beer off our backs was ask politely?! Ok, ok, ok…….here we go…… Dear @abinbev @molsoncoorsbrewing @zxventures and everyone you own… #1 – Stop engaging in #paytoplay at on/off premise accounts (like giving away snow boards at your promos) #2 – Stop bribing/pressuring distributors to sell your products ahead of other brands. #3 – Stop using your smaller faux craft brands to promote diversity and progressive agendas while simultaneously funneling millions into organizations and PACs that support the opposite. #4 – Don’t make fun of Jim just because he’s the only employee over 40 in a company full of millennials; that’s punishment enough. #dickmove #ageism #5 – Don’t pretend to be the good guys while literally ransoming our own slogan back to us. That one’s a special kinda wtf. XOXO – Dave
As things stand, reconciliation looks unlikely.
Meanwhile, over in the Lone Star state, another marketing feud began after Karbach Brewing Company, also owned by AB InBev, decided to promote its new beer, Crawford Bock, in Shiner, Texas. If the town’s name sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the home of Shiner Bock, the hugely popular flagship beer of Spoetzl Brewery.
With signs that read “There’s a new Bock in town,” and billboards promoting Crawford Bock scattered throughout the small town, Spoetzl Brewery took it as a direct attack and an attempt to encroach on its market.
In an open letter to The Shiner Gazette, Spoetzl Brewery wrote:
“We have heard some chatter about uncommon sights around town last month—three billboards and a concert sponsorship touting: ‘There’s a new Bock in Shiner.’ That’s not Shiner Bock my friends. They are talking about Karbach Brewing Co., which is owned and operated by Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV, the largest brewer in the United States and in the world. It is not the Shiner Bock that’s brewed here in Shiner at the K. Spoetzl Brewery. This brewery has been providing jobs and giving back to our community since 1909—that’s 110 years. It is not the 110% independent and family-owned Shiner Bock.”
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This is an open letter published today in the Shiner Gazette. See below. . . . . To our friends in Shiner: We have heard some chatter about uncommon sights around town last month—three billboards and a concert sponsorship touting: “There’s a new Bock in Shiner.” That’s not Shiner Bock my friends. They are talking about Karbach Brewing Co., which is owned and operated by Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV, the largest brewer in the United States and in the world. It is not the Shiner Bock that’s brewed here in Shiner at the K. Spoetzl Brewery. This brewery has been providing jobs and giving back to our community since 1909—that’s 110 years. It is not the 110% independent and family-owned Shiner Bock. Our beers proudly wear the Brewers Association’s “Certied Independent Craft” seal on our labels—something an A-B-owned beer will never be able to do. A-B is a public multinational company with its global headquarters in Belgium. A-B acquired Karbach Brewing Co. in 2016. This was part of A-B’s larger scheme to acquire craft breweries around the United States and use its huge plants to produce the former craft beers they now own. A-B does not want you to know that Karbach is produced at the formerly craft Karbach brewery and at its large, low-cost A-B plant in Houston. This is a huge company with deep pockets seeking to force its way into our town. It is not the first time they have tried to imitate our iconic Shiner Bock—A-B’s Ziegenbock and Michelob AmberBock have been around for years. Now, Karbach’s Crawford Bock joins A-B’s family of bocks: “There’s a new Bock in A-B.” But they can try again. It won’t be the first time some local Texans faced unbelievable odds. We’ve got pride on our side. We are proud of our beer, proud of our independence, proud of our heritage, proud of our authenticity, and proud to be in Shiner, Texas. To the drinkers who love Shiner, we say “Cheers” and to the giant breweries, as our friends down the road once said, “Come and Take It.” Thank you for your support. Your friends at the Spoetzl Brewery
According to the Houston Chronicle, Karbach said the advertisements were created by Del Papa Distributing to promote the Shiner Music Festival and not by Karbach itself. But as Gregor Mina, the head of marketing at Spoetzl Brewing told the Chronicle, “It’s one thing to sponsor the festival; it’s another thing to do a marketing blitz, especially in Shiner.”
With so much great beer to go around, can’t we all just get along?