Thursday, May 01, 2008

Miller's Brew Blog -- Will It Run Flat?


You should check out Brew Blog, a site run by Miller Brewing. What a great tool. Miller can now let beer enthusiasts, analysts and other interested parties in on company happenings before the PR machine sanitizes the news and releases it to the general public, right?

Wrong.

The site (http://www.brewblog.com/) instead focuses on nemesis Anheuser-Busch. That's right -- Budweiser and Boddington's, not Miller Lite.

I think it's too early to tell whether the site will stay successful. But the blog is compelling to say the least.

In a decades-old battle between the two brewing giants, No. 2 Miller has taken the unusual step in taking industry news by the horns by leading conversations on the Internet instead of following it.

In fact, writing the blog is a former Advertising Age reporter who was hired by Miller to run the site as if he still were a beat reporter. The blogger, reports The Wall Street Journal on April 24 (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120829767153417401.html?mod=hpp_us_inside_today) "tracks the St. Louis company's every move, from earnings reports to management changes." He even broke a global story that the No. 1 rival was introducing Budweiser American Ale, a lime and salt flavored concoction, before any other media outlet -- including the WSJ and Ad Age.

Conventional marketing says that giving your competitor anything other than negative publicity is bad. But here are some reasons why the blog borders on brilliance:
  • It gives Miller the first shot at spinning industry news before competitors, analysts, the media or the public.
  • It engages customers and potential customers more than traditional PR-heavy blogs would.
  • It fosters trust with consumers -- the site, after all, is well advertised who the sponsor is.
  • It's a good attempt to circumvent the news media.
  • It attracts media attention.
  • It's a good source of real intel.
  • It personifies Miller, making the company look more inviting and less like a stodgy corporation.
  • Most importantly, it likely gets the goad of Anheuser-Busch when the company gears up to market new products, launch ad campaigns or even hire new execs.
Until I see otherwise, Brew Blog's strategy is stout. It's exciting to see a large corporation think outside the box and take some chances.

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