I missed blogging about this in a timely manner due to my self-imposed blogging hiatus, but I am intrigued about the recent jump in popularity of Pabst Blue Ribbon, not just as a beer drinker, but as a futurist.
In lieu of posting about this last month, I went and bought a twelve pack of the stuff. I can say that, from what I can taste, the uptick in atttention is definitely *not* about the beer. But it’s twice as cheap as the microbrews I usually drink and I’ll have to admit it’s not twice as bad. Get the beer cold enough and me hot enough and it’s a decent beer.
I guess if you’re a beer drinker in the BudCoorsSchlitzMiller stratus of the beer drinking world, Pabst Blue Ribbon is as good as any. I’d imagine that the beer-to-beer preferences of such drinkers ride pretty heavily on variables such as advertising, branding, and image.
What makes this interesting from a futurist perspective is that the PBR people are trying to evade one of the ironclad laws of marketing trends — the backlash. They’re resisting the urge to promote and expand the trend with the usual marketing techniques, hoping that they’ll not alienate the base of early adapters who started the trend to begin with.
(remember the Sprite commercials a few years back that struck that “you and we both know we’re trying to sell you something” ironic tone? Commercial anti-commercialism? Consumers saw right through that marketing strategy. This is something else alogether — marketing by not marketing.)
So can Pabst avoid a backlash with an interesting “non-marketing” approach? My bet is no, because if the next wave of consumers, who are more into following established trends than fomenting new ones, latch onto the PBR trend and take it big time, there’ll be a backlash. Doesn’t matter that the Pabst marketing will be blameless. There’s only so much market capital in a trend and the people will blow it all even if Pabst doesn’t.
But, if they do avoid the backlash, that’ll be an interesting twist on trend dynamics.