Kickin Heineken

Amy Corr’s MediaPost piece on Shiner Beer’s ambush of Heineken at the Austin City Limits music festival is worth reading — if just for the comments.  Texans love their beer, and I don’t think they care what the official beer sponsor was.

The story was first published in October (Ad Age), back when it was news:

Apparently, the Dutch have never heard the phrase “Don’t mess with Texas.” How else to explain Heineken’s sponsorship of the Austin City Limits Music Festival? Sure, Austin tends toward the urbane and sophisticated, and the ACL does draw a huge NPR sort of crowd. So it could have seemed like a good fit for an import that is regarded as a little more classy than your average American brew.

But Austin is deep in the heart of Shiner country. You know Shiner, right? Great beer made in Texas that, for some reason, isn’t distributed in New York (though if you know where to look, you can find it). Sadly, if you’re a country-first, underdog kind of beer drinker, little Shiner simply couldn’t compete with a company like Heineken when it came to snagging the ACL Music Festival sponsorship. So how is that guy in the photo to the left drinking a Shiner, when there were none to be found? He isn’t!

Shiner wasn’t even available inside the festival. But that didn’t stop its ad agency, McGarrah Jessee, from targeting the 65,000 people attending. So the shop printed up Shiner koozies designed to look just like Shiner cans and had street teams hand them out to festival-goers. Sure, they might not have sold any beer that day, but they did get the brand out there in a way that anyone with a soft spot for scrappy underdogs would appreciate. (But just for the record, I’d rather have a Shiner in my koozie than a Shiner koozie on my Heiny.)

Good work by the agency. Wonder if Heineken will be better prepared next time around — with their own beer koozies. But take a closer look at the Austin City Limits photos, and you’ll see people drinking Lone Star beer.

And the koozies I saw were the Keep Austin Weird variety.

Love this Shiner TV spot: