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Brewers Association campaign touts independent brewers to younger beer drinkers

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In an effort to encourage Gen Z (well, those who are of age) and millennials to choose more beers from craft brewers, the Brewers Association is promoting craft beer brands across social media with a digital video spot that is part of a new campaign. The campaign is also aimed at growing awareness of the association’s independent craft brewers seal and a special website where beer drinkers can find out whether they’re drinking craft beer.

“The overall strategy is to raise awareness of small and independent craft brewers and with this group (21-to-35-year-olds) exploring and drinking lots of different things,” said Ann Obenchain, marketing and communications director for the Brewers Association. “We want to remind them of independent craft beer and the values of indie brewers. Indie beer is authentic because the places, people and products produced by indie brewers are reflections of their interests and their communities.”

The new campaign is a follow-up to last year’s “Local Beer Is Better” campaign, and it features independent craft breweries including Bale Breaker Brewing Company, Green Bench Brewing Co. and Maine Beer Company who tell their stories and show the faces behind them, while also promoting the seal of independent craft brewers. The campaign targets 21-to-35-year-olds who drink alcoholic beverages and supports one of the association’s missions: to promote the small businesses that make up the patchwork of independent breweries throughout the country.

The campaign’s ads will appear across Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, YouTube and Tinder. They will direct consumers to ThisIsIndieBeer.com, where they can find out if their favorite breweries are independent by using the “Is It Indie” brewery finder. Through the campaign, beer lovers can also read about featured breweries.

“Campaigns like these help lift up independent operators who don’t have the budgets to create campaigns like this one,” said Aleena Mazhar, managing director of integrated communications, strategy and digital at experiential marketing shop Fuse Create. “Hopefully it will encourage people to think about their beer choices and explore some other local options, creating awareness and ideally sales of these independents.”

The ad spend for this campaign was 100% digital, according to Obenchain. However, it is unclear how much of the Brewers Association’s advertising budget is allocated to the campaign, as Obenchain would not share overall budget specifics.

Obenchain also said that Meta offers the best value for the association, with a lower CPM than other platforms, particularly for prospecting audiences, while other channels remain affordable ways to reach its target audience. Obenchain would not comment on how ad spend was split between the platforms. The association’s new campaign will run from August to the end of the year.

This is not the Brewers Association’s first foray into video ad campaigns. For more than five years, the association has advocated for small and independent craft breweries through numerous national campaigns, including “Take Craft Back,” “Independence” and “Choice” (developed jointly with Sterling Rice Group).

And the Brewers Association is not the only brand putting the spotlight on independent businesses. For example, Vistaprint partnered with the Boston Celtics to highlight small businesses in a recent campaign.

“That could in turn motivate more craft brewers to join the association and/or obtain the seal for their brands, which is likely the desired outcome for Brewers Association,” said Chris Costello, senior director of marketing research at omnichannel marketing platform Skai.

The “Local Beer is Better” campaign was actually developed during the pandemic to encourage customers to visit local breweries. However, due to Covid-19, the Brewers Association did not measure sales or run comparables. “In between our national beer campaigns for American Craft Beer Week, National Independent Beer Run Day and Small Brewery Sunday drive business during tentpole moments throughout the year. ‘This is Indie Beer’ is a return to promoting the values of independence and the importance of independent craft brewers,” said Obenchain. 

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