Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Comical or Condescending? What's Your Take?

Have you seen the latest advertising push from Guinness? As shown in the photo below, Guinness is seeking to "become more relevant and get talked about in bars" by issuing a new glass which displays a QR code when the glass is filled with Guinness.  Scanning the QR code with your smart phone apparently allows Guinness to hack into all your social media apps and tell everyone you just drank a beer.  Kidding, of course.  Kind of.

Just don't try this with Harp Lager, Guinness' sister beer.  According to the ad the QR code doesn't show up if you fill the glass with mere "ordinary" beer.

Forget for a moment whether QR codes have any hope of becoming even fringe to the mainstream and notice the glass apparently gets much larger when you fill it with Guinness.  Now that's a trick I'd like to see with my favorite brews.

At least this Guinness ad campaign doesn't try to convince us the QR code somehow makes the beer taste better.  Those gimmicks seem reserved for the ongoing AB-InBev v. MillerCoors battle for the king of blahs.

Most recently MillerCoors introduced us to the "Punch Top Can" which has a second tab you can open using any manner of sharp-ish implements. I darn near spit out my  . . . uh . . Dr. Pepper* . . laughing while reading Adweek's David Griner's comments on the can:
Supposedly the new punch hole lets you drink or pour the beer without any annoying glugging. "In our testing, consumers told us they prefer the Punch Top Can three-to-one over the standard beer can because it's more like drinking from a pilsner glass," Amy Breeze, director of innovation and activation for Miller Lite, says with a straight face. "We're proud of our product and think everyone will have a blast exploring different ways to open it."
You know what is more like drinking from a pilsner glass?  Actually drinking from a pilsner glass. Which you can apparently do more easily now thanks to the technical geniuses at MillerCoors, assuming they're not busy using the second tab to simplify shotgunning.  I can't wait to gather the tasting group together to "explore different ways to open it."  Won't that be a hoot.

I get it.  None of this is really about improving the quality of beer.  It's about presence of mind.  In our over-saturated world of marketing gimmicks, having a quality product isn't enough.  Or even necessary, apparently.  Catchy artwork, cool gimmicks, funny names and generating discussion is the game.  Introducing a new gimmick is nothing more than a manufactured reason to generate discussion. See? It's working.

I understand I'm not the target market for these gimmicks which trend from the mildly comical to the downright condescending.  In fact, I'm rather pleased not to be the target market.

What's your take?
* Diet, caffeine free Dr. Pepper, to be exact.  It really does taste more like Dr. Pepper. 


  1. I think its a neat idea and executed well. I don't personally get into the whole QR code thing but the design is cool enough for me to pick one up. I'd imagine the code links you to but simply putting that on the glass would be just as good, haha. I really don't see anyone using the QR codes for any benefit. But, if the QR code opened up the Untappd app on my phone and checked-in the beer for me, I would change my mind :)

  2. I have to admit I don't mind the QR code or the glass, etc. and agree it would be cool if we could have automatic check ins on Untappd. You won't find me checking out the punch top can, however.