A New Front In The Beer Wars

Outside magazine’s annual BrewHaHa beer and marketing event late last month left a throng of mostly media folks from 15 Los Angeles and Orange County agencies drunk with pleasure at a Hermosa Beach, Calif., bar.

Contenders were judged on the beers, labels and presentations. Some entries were topical (“Benedict’s Brew” referred to the pope’s surprise blessing of a Stuttgart beer; “Old Smuggler” played off post-Katrina looters). Others used sexual innuendo. Dailey and Associates’ “Sportin’ Woody Ale” won; Saatchi & Saatchi took second with the “Sip/Suck” oatmeal stout.

“What’s hot? We were thinking Nip/Tuck,” says Robin Lee, media supervisor at Saatchi. “Albert Ocampo was the creative we enlisted for the label. Instead of a scalpel, we used a bottle and turned their phrase ‘A disturbingly perfect new drama’ into ‘A disturbingly perfect new stout. … The problem with the darker beers is that they are hit-or-miss. They come out great or horrible. The lighter beers have a wider margin of error. We took the risk and came up a winner.”

RPA’s team was a bit surprised by its concoction. “It was supposed to be a sort of pale ale, and it turned out to be not so pale, more like a dark beer,” says media planner Abe Diaz. “We had to do some substitutions at the last minute because the brewery ran out of the type of hops we needed. So, that’s our excuse.”