Like plenty of beer fans, I drink both craft beer and “macro” beer. My fridge is mostly stocked with local craft beer, but there’s also a six-pack of Coors Light and a rogue Naturdays in the back somewhere. Even craft brewers themselves dip into the Big Beer pool, too, when they need a break from brawny IPAs. But all is not so chummy between the companies and industry groups that represent Big Beer and craft beer, who have traditionally been competitors in terms of legislation, regulation, and market share.
The long-standing message from craft breweries and the Brewers Association, the trade group that represents them, has historically been something like this: Choose local craft breweries, because you’re smarter than that mass-market yellow-beer swill the big guys peddle. (Given the rise of craft lagers, brewers have begun to change their “yellow-beer” tune.) And Big Beer—the Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors of the world—derided craft beer as a fussy little distraction it could quash with its huge size… or buy.
But, improbably, the two camps have set aside their differences to launch a new, brand-neutral marketing campaign called Beers To That. It’s a collaboration between the craft beer guys (Brewers Association), macro beer guys (the Beer Institute trade group), and distributors (National Beer Wholesalers Association)—a trifecta that represents probably 99% of the U.S. beer industry. These groups don’t always play nicely in the sandbox, but they’ve been brought together by a common enemy: wine and spirits.
Beer sales overall have been declining for roughly five years, though craft beer has been growing modestly. The concern among breweries both big and small is that drinkers will be lured away from beer in general by fancy craft cocktails, adorable canned wine, and other non-beer alcoholic beverages. Beers To That represents a rare detente in the big-versus-small-beer conflict, as both sides realize that, just maybe, a rising beer tide lifts all boats. The Beers To That campaign launched in Austin this month and includes“a digital advertising campaign, consumer website, experiential events, point of sale materials and out of home advertisements.” It’s a multi-pronged campaign designed with one goal in mind: Get people to buy beer. Any beer.
It’s smart. There are plenty of consumers like me who drink both craft and macro beer on different occasions; either way, the fact that I buy beer is good for the industry overall. Rather than squabbling amongst themselves and deriding each other, the two factions could use their combined powers for the good of the whole category. Beer is tasty—at least that’s one statement everyone involved can agree on.