Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Beer, blogs and marketing

Am I an opinion influencer? Does my little blog sway minds? I find that highly doubtful (just in case it does, vote Dion please) but someone must think so. Judging from an e-mail I received today it seems the trend of companies trying to use bloggers as a marketing tool as come to Canada, and if random blogs across Canada suddenly begin jabbering on about Kokanee beer we’ll know it’s working.

The note was from a pr person at Toronto’s Hill & Knowlton. Now, I often deal with H&K in my day job (they rep HP and many other tech companies) so it was a little awkward, but since the e-mail went to my Hotmail address and not my work account I gather they’re just targeting bloggers and didn’t recognize the name or realize I’m an ink-stained wretch by day.

Anyway, here’s the note (some info I've X'd out):

From: "XXXXXXX" XXXX.XXXX@hillandknowlton.ca
To: jjedras@hXXXail.com
Subject: www.rockymountaintruth.ca - what do you think?
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2006 17:23:07 -0400

Hi Jeff,

Given your interests in Canadian politics and hockey (two great Canadian traditions), we thought you might also be interested to hear about what we’re sharing with other select Canadian bloggers.


We’ve been asked by Kokanee to help highlight to Canadians what it is that makes a “real” mountain beer, and what others in the beer industry only claim to be “real”. We’re basically trying to set the record straight, and let Canadians know they’re being misled about something that many take seriously: beer.


We’re inviting a few folks to take a sneak peak at a web site Kokanee will be launching in the next day or so. If you’re inclined, feel free to share this with your readers, and to rip the photos and images. You can check it out at www.rockymountaintruth.ca.


We’d also like to provide you with news about some of the exclusive events coming up in your region. Let us know if you want to be on our list.


We’re excited about being able to talk directly to Canadians, so don’t hesitate to give us your feedback.

Cheers

XXXX

Well, I certainly feel important being called a “select blogger.” Fess up though, who else got a note too? Anyway, I took a gander and it’s a somewhat cheeky, amusing site. For all their laying the smack down on Coors for brewing their beer in Toronto (Etobicoke?) though, you may find a little history lesson interesting. Kokanee tried to launch in the Ontario market in the late 1990s, like Coors with a plant in the Ontario. When people found out it wasn’t actually “brewed in the rockies” the backlash was so strong Kokanee withdrew from the Ontario market and only recently came back, shipping product from B.C. So, a little beer harpocracy but also a lesson learned, and now exploited against a rival.

Anyway, this trend of companies trying to woo bloggers and influence them to pitch their products has been around in the U.S. for a while but I wasn’t aware it had come to Canada. It’s interesting. I guess it’s a sign blogs are being taken more seriously, but can/will it be effective? That remains to be seen.

Really though, in theory it's little different than the relationship between the media and corporations. Companies buy display ads in a newspaper or on blogs through Google Ads, or they can attempt to get "earned media" by pitching a story idea to a reporter or a bloger and hope they print or post an article, and that the coverage is favourable. But
is it ethical? Now that’s another question. If bloggers become corporate shills then not so much. If they’re upfront and honest, then I’d say it’s fine.

But anyway, it's dinner time and I need to go grill some Johnson brats on my Black and Decker indoor grill, and pour myself a glass of Diet Cherry Vanilla Doctor Pepper and have a bowl of Coffee Crisp Ice Cream (on sale this week at Price Choppers) for desert.

So then, what do I as a “select blogger” think of Kokanee? Well, there’s just one problem: I don’t drink beer. :) But, if Bacardi or Captain Morgan are reading...

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3 comments:

Penny said...

Damn, BCer!! I'm interested in politics and hockey too, and I didn't get that e-mail!!!

Not only that but I also know that "Kokanee is the beer out here"!!

I don't drink booze or soft drinks, but how do you suppose they knew??? Gee, I guess I won't be able to share the good news with my - er - readers (if there are any!)

eugene plawiuk said...

Hey I've blogged about politics and hockey and I didn't get an invite either. But that's probably because I already drink Kokanee, and those psychic marketeers probably knew that.
If we were to demand truth in advertising though Kokanee would have to say that their beer is special because there is a little Trudeau in every bottle.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Keep blogging away and one day you too could be invited to help "spread the good word" for some of Canada's finer corporations. BTW Bacardi, I'm still waiting...