June 6, 2011

Junket

Tonight, BeerPHXation will take part in a beer junket promoting the introduction of Pacifico draft in 5 cities. It's truly a junket-- we'll be getting things for free with the implication that we might write something of our experience and perhaps say some nice things about Pacifico.

It's not the first time that we've gotten beer to sample or perhaps a complimentary meal or logo'd merchandise. In the course of our role as highly visible members of one of the largest homebrewing clubs in the country (ASH) and as beer men about town (or "opinion makers" if you speak marketing) this happens on occasion. In the course of wading through our relationships with breweries, other bloggers and the beer culture itself, we've given away ASH merchandise, invites, homebrew and BeerPHXation swag. For the most part, it's been a two way street between friends without any expectation that we'd write anything or that we might expect something in return.

This Pacifico thing, however, is the first time that we've been formerly hit up in such a way as to disclose fully to comply with the federal Trade Commission, (FTC). So in anticipation of this, let me lay out what my impression of Pacifico is, what we are getting from Pacifico and why it is that we decided to participate.

How do I feel about Pacifico?
Ranked among Mexican beers, I find Pacifico inferior to Negra Modelo, perhaps equal to Victoria but certainly superior to Corona, Tecate and Dos Equis. It's brown bottle protects it from any skunking you might have in a Dos Equis or Corona. It's a beer that I have had many times. The bottles are homebrew friendly pop tops. The last time I had one was in February at the Silver Pony on 7th Avenue and Dobbins. It's fairly established in this blog that David and I prefer Negra Modelo with Mexican food.

From a marketing perspective, I'd call that neutral positive.

The Goods:
So here are the essentials of what we are getting. From an email sent from Jason Rubley, Senior Outreach Specialist at Digital Apparent:
..the event will take place at HoodRide Bicycles where brand ambassadors from Pacifico and artist Joshua Rhodes will be there tagging Pacifico inspired art at the bicycle shop.
After the tagging there will be a barbeque and a time to enjoy some food and some frosty Pacifico pints. 
We will send you out a Go Pro HD HERO 960 Camera to document your experience and to then share the story on your site, and your Twitter and Facebook pages with your readers. 
We will also send you out a Pacifico shirt, an invitation for the event, and itinerary for the event. As mentioned earlier a camera will also be sent to you, which is yours to keep after the event is over.
Also in the email were requests that we make clear that we were contacted directly by Pacifico and that we should make transparent, the products received and their requests for the nature of our participation.

Some quick internet math places the retail value of this junket in the $225 - $275 neighborhood. For the record, we haven't decided what we will do with this camera. It may be donated to ASH, or raffled, or given away or kept by one of us. For the purposes of your skepticism, you should assume that we've personally profited from it.

Why the Hell are we doing it?
We love beer. We love local beer better. We love beer culture. We prefer that beer culture be locally generated. So what does this Pacifico/Grupo Modelo/Crown Imports/Crescent Crown junket have to do with anything you write about? Have we sold out? Didn't you decry the store bought Pabst beer culture in your Ignite video?


Valid questions all.

The other day, I got a phone call from someone writing about beer culture in Phoenix; if it sees the light of day I'll let you know. "What did I think about our culture and how did I think it compares to other cities?", was the thrust of the conversation. Our culture is struggling. It moves in fits and starts. It's disjointed. But it's ours and it won't be like any other cities beer culture. The story of Phoenix is rather unique. Essentially there shouldn't be a city here. There seems to be very little organic cohesion.

Comparatively, lets look at Portland, just this weekend. They had single hop fest at Amnesia, Breakside Brewing released a collaboration beer with beer writers and beer culture mavens. There was also a nano-brewing sneak preview. All of this is relayed through the wikio top beer blog in the country, Beervana, and more colorfully through Brewpublic.


So how do we get to be more like Portland within our Phoenix context? I can't speak for how successful this event will be for Pacifico and it's impact on the larger beer culture will be minimal, but what can we learn from it? Take away the camera freebie, clearly the extravagant item on the ticket, and you are left with a bike ride, some beers, a local artist and a barbecue. Culture, after all are where all of the things we like to do meet in some cohesive essence. It's the intersection of beer, biking food and art. Isn't that what the Tour d' Fat is? Isn't this just an extension of the SanTan sponsored Brews Cruises? This type of event needs to happen more often and the local beer community needs to own these experiences.

What are your thoughts? Is this just a ton of self justifying rhetoric?

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