September 28, 2006

An Open Letter to the Molson Coors Brewing Co.

MEMORANDUM

TO: W. Leo Kiely III, President and Chief Executive

FR: Benjamin Kepple

RE: Rocky Mountain Taste

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Dear Mr Kiely,

AS A PROUD football fan for many years, I have frequently encountered advertisements for Coors, Coors Light, and many other Molson Coors Brewing Co. products (including Zima, but we won’t dwell on that). As I prefer heavier beers, I do not drink Coors or Coors Light myself, but have on occasion considered buying them for my guests who prefer lighter libations.

That said, if you don’t stop airing those commercials about the plastic cooler boxes, I’m going to drink enough Miller Lite to make even Bob Uecker throw up.

I mean, my God. I’ve seen some stupid beer commercials over the years, but these latest ads of yours are as foul as an early-Eighties batch of Schlitz. I mean, they’re so bad I cringe whenever they appear on air, an event which seemingly took place five or six times an hour this past weekend.

In the event you’ve blacked out the memory of these advertisements, allow me to recall them for you. These are the advertisements in which a rather irritating group of apparent fraternity pledges purport to crash a press conference with an old-school football coach, such as Bill Walsh or Dick Vermeil. Then, like the scoundrels they are, they proceed to ask the coaches questions about the Coors plastic cooler boxes, and receive supposedly funny answers in reply. The answers are not funny. The campaign is not funny. The whole idea is not funny. Please, for the love of God, stop it already.

But don’t just take my word for it. Observe it for yourself, in all its hideousness:

Simply put, this campaign has all the excitement of a shuffleboard competition in Panama City, and as much style as a pastel sport jacket from 1973. Oh, and that reminds me. It’s no longer 1973. As a result, young American beer drinkers like me don’t consider Coors a novelty beer which should be savored and revered. Instead, we see it as a feeble and pale concoction that tastes vaguely like paint thinner. Not only are young beer drinkers not enthused about “Rocky Mountain taste,” we see it as a clever euphemism to fool the uninitiate – somewhat akin to “Rocky Mountain oysters.”

This is not to say there aren’t times when young folks like a nice, weak pilsner in mass quantities; that is a temptation for any beer drinker. Yet there are proper times and proper places for such recklessness, and proper beers as well – like the Beast, for instance, or even PBR. For football games, and other important events, better beer is needed. The idea that one would drink Coors Light – that Coloradan horsepiss you shamelessly claim is beer – during football is downright insane. I’m sorry, but it’s just not beer if one drinks it out of a plastic bottle.

Now, Mr Kiely, I am sure you are thinking, “But, Ben, you represent but a fraction of the beer-drinking public, with your snippy, arrogant demeanor and fondness for Samuel Adams Octoberfest.” Yes, that’s undoubtedly true. But that’s not to say I won’t drink light beer. After all, there are times when Sam Adams isn’t available for one reason or another, and one’s choices are limited to light pilsner-style beers. Also, light beer can be useful when one must entertain.

But when faced with such situations, one has options. For instance, if one’s lucky, there’s Amstel Light or something. Of course, one could choke down some Bud Light without too much suffering, because it has the “Real Men of Genius” radio campaign, which is hilarious. Also, they had the famous “Whaaaaazup” ads, the Clydesdales, the referee parody ads, and Ted Ferguson, the Bud Light Daredevil. One could also drink – in fact, would probably have to drink – Miller Lite, which continues its long tradition of clever advertisements with those “Man Law” ads involving former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis and Burt Reynolds. Besides, these guys had one of the best ad campaigns in history:

You know why everyone was running away at the end? Because that last guy – who seems familiar for some reason – had brought Coors Light, and was tainted with the stench and embarrassment of making that purchase. It was a purchase which said volumes. To the cashier, it said, “Check for ID.” To the man behind him in the express line, it said, “Oh God, the guy’s going to count out change.” To the cute girl in Aisle Eleven, it said, “Here is a man with limited earnings potential and little in the way of conversational skills.” There may be places where this is not the case, but I would submit that such places have not yet seen this latest round of wretched commercials, ads which must be condemned on every possible level. I mean, it says something when you have to put in a disclaimer noting the cooler boxes are for one-time use.

Now, I realize it is not entirely fair to condemn you, Mr Kiely, for the decisions your subordinates make. After all, you are a big picture guy and don’t focus on these types of things. However, I know that you can change things – and even if you don’t, you can drop a note to your advertising agency telling them to shape up.

Speaking of your advertising agency, it took me a while, but I finally found out who the devil is responsible for these wretched commercials. According to the good people at AdWeek, it’s the Chicago office of DraftFCB Group, which I believe has long handled Coors advertising (FCB, I think, was once Foote, Cone & Belding). DraftFCB Group is part of Interpublic Group of Companies Inc., the worldwide advertising giant. Ad Week writes:

Naturally, no NFL commercial break would be complete without junk food and beer. Golden, Colo.-based Coors partnered with NBC last week and re-upped its "official beer sponsor of the NFL" status for Coors Light, an estimated $300 million deal beyond its annual spending on the brand (a third of which is already spent on games). The brewer designs packaging around football, and upcoming comedy spots from IPG's Draft FCB Group in Chicago will tout a Silver Ticket giveaway. Four fans break into press conferences held by Dick Vermeil and Bill Walsh, only to grill the coaches with Silver Ticket questions.

The “Silver Ticket” in question refers to NFL tickets which Coors Light is giving away – and quite frankly, I can think of a hell of a lot better ways to promote this fact, such as writing better commercials. But I digress. In discussing the effectiveness of any campaign, it’s important to talk numbers.

Here’s one number I think is important: $58.38. That’s the all-time-high stock price for Interpublic, which it hit in early 2000. Yesterday, it closed at an anemic $9.86 per share, a loss of some 83.1 pc over the last six years. Here’s another number I think is important: $0.095. That’s the dividend per share Interpublic once paid out. But it’s hard to pay a dividend when you lost $276 million over the past year.

I don’t know how in hell an ad agency manages to lose $276 million, not even a big firm like Interpublic, but clearly these folks have some issues. Certainly its FCB unit should be ashamed of producing this wretched, third-rate excuse for a television advertising campaign. If they don’t shape things up, I would suggest you start asking the firm to take proactive measures to turn things around. Maybe watching better ads would help them – better ads like this:

All best,

Ben Kepple

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at September 28, 2006 10:28 PM | TrackBack
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