“The Marketing of No Marketing” by Rob Walker

Ever since I can remember drinking beer, PBR has always been a favorite among my group of friends. As I get older I realize why it was/is popular. It’s cheap. Since I didn’t drink alcoholic beverages before the age of twenty-one, it was college where I began to fine tune my taste and vocabulary for beer. Starting only a couple years ago, when my boyfriend and I were always going broke, we always drank PBR with our friends. We would go to the bars that PBR in a can for $1 because it was the cheapest way for us to have a good time with our friends. I never felt overly cool drinking PBR, and never felt the urge to get a PBR sticker and put it on my fridge along with all the other stickers from our favorite breweries. “[PBR] was just there.” Just like the article phrased it.

The no marketing strategy being a marketing strategy is like the definition of being a hipster. You are no longer a hipster once you realize it and/or start trying to be one. The article mentioned how hard it is to just do nothing when a product just abruptly explodes, and I think Pabst has dealt with that very well, but laying low. Before reading this article, I did not know the story about the bike messenger polo game in Portland that Pabst sponsored. It sort of explains the origin of both hipsters and PBR. They sort of both came out of that one event. I think even more today (or maybe I’m just older and realize it more) people appreciate the humbleness of small business, and community. Pabst’s marketing plan to sponsor small local events and basically hire the “cool kids” in various neighborhoods as marketing reps is so small time, and so subtle. It’s like when you see a friend drinking a beer you haven’t heard of before, a conversation becomes of it, and you try it and talk about it, and probably end up buying it yourself. The way Pabst has become increasingly successful because of this seems to be causing a slight annoyance though. But, as one of the “bike-polo” kids in the article explained, “we’re going to drink whatever beer costs a dollar.” It’s funny how that is the main concern with nearly all of their drinkers. It’s a simple as that. As long as PBR doesn’t become too trendy and remains $1 its success will probably remain steady for eternity.

I also found it interesting that their actual patrons/drinkers were being overlooked and were sort of hidden in these small communities, they just needed to be found. The reason Pabst was doing badly was because they were targeting the wrong people (I believe the article said the 45-60 demographic). Once they began targeting the right people subtly in the right way, they exploded. Which is a pretty strong marketing strategy right?

Present day, I hate to say I’ve become a sort of snob when it comes to beer (hey, it happens when you live in the microbrew capital of the world) and I no longer really enjoy drinking PBR, because in comparison to the small time “gourmet” beers it tastes just awful. Also, my beer drinking goals have changed. But, on that note, I do find myself buying it occasionally and of course, I never turn one down.


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