Stampede Beer Nabs Simpson As Spokesperson, Investor

Stampede Beer ad with Jessica SimpsonWhen it comes to spokespeople, you can't do much better than lassoing a hot recording star who appeals to both men and women, has a healthy image that meshes with your brand positioning, and believes in the product enough to actually want to be a part owner. 

Those stars aligned for Stampede Light Plus when the three-year-old brand--which claims the distinction of being the only U.S. beer to date to be infused with extra B vitamins, folic acid and folate--approached Jessica Simpson. The North Texas native struck a deal for a 15% stake in the Dallas-based company, which has a number of private investors, confirms Lawrence D. Schwartz, CEO, Stampede Brewing Co., Inc.

"In addition to liking and drinking the beer, this fit in with Jessica's entrepreneurial interests," says Schwartz. "And clearly, Jessica's healthy lifestyle and image fit perfectly with our strategy, which has always been based on being different from other light beers because of our healthy, functional additives."

The campaign also introduces a new tagline: "Be Smart, Drink Smart," promoting both Stampede as a sensible beer choice and the need for sensible alcoholic consumption in general.

Stampede's most recent tagline was "Serve Yourself Better." Its first one, "Beer with Horsepower," was dropped as part of Stampede's lengthy, costly approval process with the U.S. Treasury Department's Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau, which enforces the legal requirements that health-related claims by alcoholic beverages must be verifiable and balanced by messages conveying the health risks of excessive alcohol consumption. "They seemed to think that 'horsepower' sounded too healthy," Schwartz remarks.

The campaign, created by Eisenberg & Associates, includes print in D and other regional magazines serving Wisconsin, Kansas and Minnesota, USA Today and "probably" some leading entertainment/ celebrity titles, reports Schwartz. Billboards and in-store promotions are also being employed, as are ads on MySpace and Facebook and blogs. TV and radio spots will follow.

The brand's core demographics are ages 24 to 34, with a slight skew (58%) to females. "Women are usually first to be attracted to health-oriented products," Schwartz says.

Stampede, which also markets its "full-bodied, light-lager taste," is distributed nationally through the Miller/Coors/Anheuser-Busch network. Last year, it saw 138% growth in dollar sales, reports Schwartz, who told Forbes that he projected revenue of about $540,000 for 2007.

Beer with a health positioning "is probably always going to remain a niche," says Beverage World Editor in Chief Jeff Cioletti--noting that this remains true in Europe, where such beers were introduced years ago. But he adds that other U.S. beer makers may seek to develop products with a health appeal to attract more women.

"Health and wellness attributes are driving virtually every new product and overall growth in non-alcoholic beverages, but this hasn't happened to the same extent with alcoholic beverages--maybe because when people think 'healthy,' they generally don't run for the bar," adds Gary Hemphill, senior VP for consulting/financial services firm Beverage Marketing Corp.

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