New Belgium Shows Whimsical Side

CHICAGO The beer world has its share of posers, but what happens when a genuine craft brewer gets its mitts on enough money to fund a national advertising campaign?

New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, Colo., shows off its whimsical nature and sustainable corporate culture with print breaking in April issues of 15 publications. Montage executions, created by Cultivator Advertising & Design, Denver, feature Fat Tire, Mothership Wit and Skinny Dip brews with characters like Graham Bergh who constructs gadgets out of recycled bike parts and a contingent of skinny-dippers trying to save the Cache la Poudre, one of Northern Colorado’s last free-flowing rivers.

New Belgium’s bicycle-filled parking lot also gets the spotlight. Each execution is layered with odd items like old postage, beer packaging, photos and maps. Tagline continues, “Follow your folly. Ours is beer.” Online videos profiling the eco-heroes will appear on FollowYourFolly.com. The budget was not disclosed.

The effort is New Belgium’s first national campaign, although it distributes beer in just 15 states. Last year, the brewer launched Fat Tire in Chicago, with a special label proclaiming it as the “Chicago Inaugural: The first Fat Tire Ale served (legally) in the Second City.” The message poked fun at out-of-state consumers who drove to the brewery just to buy cases of Fat Tire that they would resell at home. New Belgium previously tried TV spots, which aired in core markets.

The “Tinkerer” ads, created by Amalgamated, New York, featured an everyday man who fixes a cruiser bike—which also is Fat Tire’s logo—and rides it in the Colorado mountains.

The employee-owned brewery has been green since workers voted in 1998 to forego pay bonuses so the operation could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing wind-generated power. Other sustainability milestones include recapture and reuse practices that enable New Belgium to use four barrels of water to produce one barrel of beer, nearly half the industry average. During 2002, the company completed its own water treatment facility from which it captures methane to power about 10 percent of the brewery. Recently, New Belgium partnered with an energy start-up company working to convert algae into biodiesel fuel. New Belgium is providing the carbon dioxide byproduct from its fermentation and boiler operations to help the algae grow.

New Belgium sales gained 18.4 percent compared with 2005, finishing last year with 438,000 barrels shipped, per Beer Marketer’s Insights.