BridgePort Brewing Creates On-Air 'Beervana'


When you reside in Portland, Ore., a city with 48 craft beer microbreweries, you are definitely living in "Beervana."

That makes "Beervana" a perfect fit for Portland-based BridgePort Brewing Company, Oregon's oldest craft brewery (founded in 1984).

BridgePort's new "Long Live Beervana" campaign, from Portland-based marketing agency R/West and Hidden City film productions, features its first-ever television commercials -- one version for Portland and one for the brewery's second-largest market, Seattle.

To those in the know, Beervana connotes not just plentiful availability of craft beer, but a "state of true beer enlightenment" and a distinctive regional vibe, and the commercials tie into all of these.

Each spot highlights the unique cultures of the respective cities by weaving BridgePort's role as a pioneer of the Pacific Northwest's craft brewing revolution into montages of residents engaging in favorite local activities (brewery hopping, of course ... hanging at local eateries, street festivals and markets ... and the ever-popular naked bike ride, among these). They also feature "Shimmy She Wobble" by southern blues artist Othar Turner, and a homegrown soundtrack straight out of the Northwest beer scene.



In addition, the spots include the unique people who brew BridgePort's beers (the company has had the same brewmaster since its inception) and "helped make the Beervana revolution possible." The history and quality of BridgePort's large and ever-changing line of craft beer varieties, which use locally grown ingredients, is a key part of the mix, but specific varieties are not the emphasis.

"Craft beer advertising is typically product-focused, and with the large number of unique beers available in our markets, it can be tough to cut through the product clutter" in marketing campaigns, BridgePort director of marketing Stacey Williams tells Marketing Daily. "A lot of microbrewer campaigns focus on making the beer the hero," concurs R/West president/creative director Sean Blixseth.

Instead, "We felt it was time to celebrate the uniqueness of Portland and Seattle" -- reflecting residents' great pride in their cities and emphasizing the company's integration into their lifestyles, says Williams. "Because our flagship brand, BridgePort Pale Ale, has British roots, we wanted an approach that conveys our alignment with the Northwest." (BridgePort Pale Ale was one of the first India Pale Ales, or IPA's, to be sold commercially.)

The spots, initially airing in 60-second versions, then transitioning to 30-second versions, are being seen in cable programming (such as "The Colbert Report" and "Mad Men") targeted to the craft beer-drinker core demographic of educated 25- to-32-year-olds, reports Williams. As true of all beer, the customer/prospect base skews to men, but in the craft beer-crazy Northwest (BridgePort's brews are available in 11 states), there's a larger female fan base than is found outside of the big craft markets, she notes.

BridgePort is "thrilled" with the positive feedback already received about the two-week-old spots from consumers, wholesalers and the company's own teams, Williams reports.

The same Beervana theme is being employed in out-of-home advertising and print ads in regional alternative weeklies, although the latter focus on promoting two Portland brew pubs owned by Bridgeport. (One is located in the company's brewery, an historic building that originally housed a rigging rope factory.)

BridgePort is also expanding and honing its social media initiatives, but with an eye to ensuring that each effort is authentic and reflects the brand's voice, stresses Williams. "Posting for posting's sake can come off as posed," she says. "We're focused on being as true as possible to what we are in all of our social media outreach efforts."

One example: Employees at the brew pubs are now tweeting real-time updates and photos from the floor.

In another innovation to launch this summer, BridgePort will employ Foursquare to promote its Hop Czar label, an Imperial IPA that has become the brewer's second-largest variety in the five months since its launch. (The brewer is projecting sales of about 100,000 cases of Hop Czar this year; BridgePort Pale Ale sells about 400,000 cases per year.) A person dressed as the "Hop Czar" character featured on the beer's label will be moving around Portland, and fans tracking him on Foursquare will try to zip to his latest location and meet him, in which case they will earn rewards like brew pub meal certificates.

BridgePort Facebook fans, who share photos and get invitations and frequent updates on events from the brewer, are currently being migrated, via a campaign, from an existing group page to a new, more businesslike page. The approximately 2,000 fans include significant numbers of people not residing in the company's core Pacific Northwest markets, according to the company.

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