Intended to compete with regional brands like Keystone and Yuengling, the brand will make fun of -- and give a blue-collar twist to -- top-tier brands' affinity for big-bucks sports sponsorships. But instead of sponsoring a concert, sports figure, league, car or entertainment property, Genny Light is sponsoring a fictive regular Joe, or "Chet," in this case.
The campaign, via Portland, Maine-based Via Group, comprises radio, point-of-purchase, social media and online videos that posit the brew as "Official Beer of Chet Hammerton." Hammerton, invented by the agency, spouts "Chet-isms" at www.ChetHammerton.com, appears in videos and generally is intended to evince the American-blue-collar-dude ethos.
Aimed at 21- to-45-year-old men, the campaign comprises four radio spots -- all featuring Hammerton -- that will air in 18 markets across New York, Ohio, Vermont, Michigan and Pennsylvania through the summer. Online is a video and social media campaign that includes the Web site as well as Twitter and Facebook.
Videos on YouTube, Vimeo and Blip.tv have Hammerton doing foolhardy things like eating the world's hottest chili pepper, after which he runs to the fridge -- whose shelves are lined with Genny Light beer -- chugs milk, and sprays whipped cream down his throat to ease the pain.
Radio ads say: "Here at the Genesee brewery, we recognize Genny Light not as the sponsor of any trendy nightclub, concert tour or rodeo, but as the official beer of Chet Hammerton," after which Hammerton reels off working-guy wisdom.
In-store elements feature a life-sized Chet Hammerton that speaks to passersby, saying things like: "If I wasn't made out of cardboard I would personally put a 30-pack of Genny Light in your grocery wagon and we would become best friends."
The lead brand, Genesee, is sponsoring a summer rock concert called "Rock the Cans" next month at the brewery, a six-hour event featuring bands like the Gin Blossoms and Soul Asylum.
The Rochester, N.Y. brewer, founded in 1878, was acquired about a year ago by KPS Capital Partners' NAB, which also grabbed Labatt USA and merged the two companies, investing some $16 million in growth and expansion -- $10 million into operations and $6 million for marketing, per the company. NAB also handles licensing of Seagram's Escapes. Via Group won the NAB account last year.