Last week, “Taplines” left off with former Pabst Brewing Company marketer Neal Stewart explaining the eureka moment when the brewery realized that its flagship pilsner was becoming a cultural phenomenon in the Pacific Northwest. Today, Neal is back, and he’s here to share the tale of how deft — yet inexpensive — marketing strategies enabled the brand to embrace its hipster-backed second coming.
When Stewart made the crucial move of sponsoring a Portland, Ore., bike messenger race on behalf of Pabst, he met a myriad of people from different subcultures ranging from the music scene to die-hard tattoo enthusiasts — all eager to get in with their new PBR plug. Stewart proceeded to sponsor several different events in these respective scenes with cases upon cases of free beer. At this point, the Pabst bigwigs were on board, and the company went on to hire a team of field marketing reps across the country, all charged with the task of doing exactly what Stewart was doing: going to the places the cool kids hung out and dropping off free cases of PBR. Rather than dumping cash into sweeping nationwide ad campaigns, Pabst was seeking out subcultures and allowing them to write their own narrative on what PBR means. Of course, mainstream media eventually caught on, and it wasn’t long before “The Hipster Handbook” enlisted PBR as the official “hipster beer” and The New York Times was writing about the beer’s renaissance.
On today’s episode of “Taplines,” Dave and Neal discuss PBR’s cultural and commercial boom after the turn of the 21st century and how early signs of life for the nearly defunct brand gave way to a full-blown national craze. Tune in for more.