Friday, May 20, 2011

Coorporate Hypoxia

  Colorado Chiller didn't taste as good as the other leading coolers, Bartles and Jaymes and California Cooler. In fact, after just a few minutes in bright light the product turned, in technical brewing terms, "skunky". One Coors executive served the skunky drink at an outdoor barbecue, much to his embarrassment. As he later put it, "The penguins in the ad should say, 'Less Chilling...Tastes like Shit.'"
  According to research, wine cooler drinkers in 1985 were young upscale women who were searching for an alternative to drinking beer. Yet when they tried Colorado Chiller they tasted beer not wine. As one Chiller drinker said, "It's as if a beer company tried to pull one over on us, calling it a cooler and then serving beer." Now why would a beer company do something like that?
  The company's next foray into the new products arena was another "me too" counterattack product. The ignominious Herman Joseph's was a "super premium", or higher-priced beer, that was supposed to compete with the established and popular Michelob and Lowenbrau, and never did turn a profit.
  Contributing to the product's malaise was the odd brand name, which had been chosen to pay homage to a deceased Coors family member. In truth "Herman Joseph's" sounded more like a brand of men's designer clothing...The product's drab bottle, which lacked the distinctiveness and class of Michelob's (a patented tear-drop shape) and Lowenbrau's (which featured gold and silver foil wraps) didn't help either...One final effort was made in 1987 to resuscitate the brand. Attempting to cash in simultaneously on all of the crazes in beer marketing, the company renamed the product "Herman Joseph's Original Draft Light" and expanded distribution to twenty states...
  Chuck Yeager had been hired because someone at Coors thought he could provide the inspiration to back Herman Joseph's new advertising theme: Take off with Herman Joseph's Original Draft Light."
The legendary pilot had an unenviable task. To begin with, Yeager, as Big Tim correctly observed, "didn't know a fucking thing about beer". Additionally, aviation heroes, whose piloting of multi-billion dollar planes required excellent hand-eye coordination and split second decision making, weren't exactly the most credible advocates for drinking beer.
  Yeager deviated signifigantly from the script on his teleprompter. Most of his speech centered on the difficulty of flying jets, especially when pilots "urinated and defecated in their flight suits when they lost consciousness," or how jet pilots had to "urinate in their flight suits because there was no way to tailor the flight suits to urinating in the cockpit." Finally after a rambling twenty-five minutes, Yeager brought his talk back to beer by concluding, "And I'm sure that you're all going to make Herman Joseph's soar next year"...The cosmetic change to the brand name didn't fool consumers...After almost a decade of testing, the company finally stopped brewing Herman Joseph's in 1989.

-from "Silver Bullets: A Soldiers Story of How Coors Bombed in the Beer Wars" by Robert J. Burgess