Andrew Rosenblum analyzes the history of malt-liquor and beer advertising:
The resuscitation of Pabst Blue Ribbon offers the best example of how subtle the Don Drapers of today can be. P.B.R. went from a beer known for being cheap and bland and in seeming terminal decline in 2001, to a brand known for being cheap and bland that has increased sales by over 25% since 2008, in spite of raising prices in the middle of a recession. That’s on top of a roughly 60% increase in sales between 2001 and 2006, due to a stealth marketing campaign astutely analyzed by Rob Walker in his book Buying In.
As Walker shows, P.B.R. grew precisely because of the lack of overt marketing. ...
When Kid Rock’s lawyer noticed the young, hard edged drinkers drawn to P.B.R., and thought that that his client might make an excellent spokesman, the company rebuffed his overtures. Instead, P.B.R. continued its unobtrusive promotions, like skateboard movie screenings, art gallery openings, indie publishing events, and the "West Side Invite,” where Portland messengers drank beer and played “bike polo” together but without pushing the brand using ostentatious posters or signs.
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