Beer from here

German beer brands, especially the really big ones, have a hard time making sure customers see their positioning as unique. If you go through the top 10, some of the brands’ imagery overlaps – pure ingredients, nature, ‘preference’ brands etc (I’ve counted quite a few that use the preference strategy).

Sanwald Sad WalterI’ve also noticed over the years that big topics used in the UK or US are not so prevalent here: ‘me and my mates’, or simply ‘we’re a fun brand’, which I think Budweiser occupies pole position on in the US. Thankfully though, humour is not totally lacking in German beer brands.

This summer, I noticed some regional brands doing things predictably and playing to their, er, regionality. This is an important issue in all parts of the cradle of beer-drinking. So the Baden-Württemberg brand Sanwald knocks the poor Bavarians, who are clearly gutted that they can’t get the regional brew beyond Swabia. Sanwald I’ve got news for you, the Bavarians have got enough wheat beer, most of it far superior in taste.

Anti-becksThen there’s Dinkel Acker, a Stuttgart brew doing a subtle spoof on the huge Becks brand. Becks has shifted its positioning in Germany over time – away from the green country around Bremen in the north, away from the green sails of sailing ships (to the music of Joe Cocker), and over international waters to beaches reminiscent of the Caribbean (and Bacardi). They’ve also put themselves on a pedestal to be unique and now shout about “The Becks Experience”. It seems to work. Taking a six-pack of Becks to any German party is about as safe a bet as tipping on the English to lose a penalty shoot-out.

To contrast itself to Becks, the Dinkel Acker brand simply proclaims that it doesn’t need all those gimmicks. It doesn’t tell me what it has instead, but I guess I’d need to drink a beer to find out.

IMG-20120528-00084By coincidence, one of my informants stumbled across an English regional brand this summer, and found it also poking fun at people NOT from the region, indeed not from the country. The theme is probably one that the people of Kent have to be proud of – fending off World War II aerial attacks.

This and the German examples reflect some of the cultural differences between Germans and Brits. The Brits are openly united when it comes to their role as a nation in international settings. In my opinion, they invest less energy in attacking other areas of the country and more energy in attacking other countries. In Germany, I often witness regional attacks and put-downs. The sarcasm and often black humour of the British is not so common in advertising.

So I can’t imagine a German beer brand going THIS far with its humour… but hope one day to be proven wrong.

On a final note, the bottom of the Spitfire advertising is clever. Of course a Spitfire was a type of WWII aeroplane, flown in the Battle of Britain. This beer? The Bottle of Britain

Alex Woodruff

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