Beer Makes the World a Better Place

Everyone has their holiday. For some people, November 1st means it’s finally time to start decorating for Christmas. For others, New Year’s Eve is the highlight of the year, with its promise of a fresh start (just as soon as the hangover passes). I even know someone for whom Valentine’s Day merits a massive, sugar-fueled party with pink and red construction paper hearts as far as the eye can see. But for me, it’s all about Oktoberfest.

Oktoberfest ist wunderbar!

Oktoberfest celebrations have been the highlight of my autumn for the past decade or so. I’ve shoveled down schnitzel in Kitchener, enjoyed many, many “maßes” (“masses” or litre steins) in Munich, and done a brewery crawl in Vermont. I love the relaxed camaraderie of the crowds, the music of an oom-pah band, and drinking a pint in the crisp, fall air.


This past weekend I made the trek east to the wilds of Vankleek Hill for Beau’s Oktoberfest. This was my fifth Beau’s experience, and I’m a big fan of the brand. They continue to produce excellent mainstay beers, as well as developing interesting flavours each year using novel recipes. I also really enjoy their branding from an aesthetic perspective – I’ve purchased a number of posters over the years promoting their different beers, and my boyfriend and I have them displayed on rotation in our apartment.


Drinking for charity

What also makes the Beau’s brand a stand-out is their commitment to corporate social responsibility, and involvement in the community. In addition to their ongoing support of Operation Come Home, a significant portion of the money generated by Beau’s Oktoberfest each year goes towards a charity. This year, sales of a special beer-Caesar were designated to support the development of a women-owned and operated brewery in Rwanda. If you clicked on the Beau’s link earlier in this post, you will have noticed the website’s strategic use of a pop-up that allows you to watch a video about the brewery project, and links to the Rwandan’s brewery’s Kickstarter page.

A very dark photo of the School of Bock session.

A very dark photo of the School of Bock session.

I had the opportunity to listen to Beau’s founder Steve Beauchesne and soon-to-be brewery owner Josephine “Fina” Uwineza talk about the project during a beer sampling session called “The School of Bock”. It was fascinating, and I wish it could have been longer so that we could have gone into greater  depth about the subjects that came up during the Q-and-A portion. While the primary point of the session was to sell attendees on the idea of contributing to the brewery, the conversation also covered at a glance Rwanda’s beer culture, and the place of women in post-conflict economies. When I walked out of the session, I was thirsty for more information…and for more beer.

Have any of your favourite companies incorporated social or charitable enterprises into their business model? If so, how are they using social media to promote it?



COM0015- Post #2 Strong & Weak organizations

Strong organizations

Heineken is one of the leaders in terms of building long tern relationships, engagement and strengthening the bonds with 96f7d66c1454b39881d6525fc784d60btheir brand. No matter the subject, they make the best use of the social media platforms and manage to stay first in class. How? They research their audience, identify the need, come up with innovative and fun ideas, they create engaging concepts and use platforms that enable communication with the brand, user interactions and advocacy. You can find their super creative visuals on, their consumer’s crazy moments on , follow them on Twitter – 82K followers, or find one of their multiple Facebook pages, the main one enjoys over 17.2M likes.

They manage very well to keep their audience engaged and interested, and contests are in top of their social media engagement. Here are just few examples.

Based on a taboo subject like create awareness for alcohol over-consumption, Heineken started a conversation about people who drink too many beers during their nights out with their friends. Results? 5 million targets online, over 1 million site visitors, 150.000 hours of active brand engagement, over 5.000 positive consumer reviews, a lift in prompt awareness and likeability of 11%.

Heineken crowd-sourced the redesign of the trademark bottle for a limited edition to celebrate their 140th anniversary. They’ve got 1700 entries with uber engaged and loyal customers that have unlocked their creativity to come up with fresh and unbiased concepts about the beer bottle.

Create your own ”Serenade” for Valentine’s Day had over 5 million Likes of the Facebook app………. just to name a few campaigns.

Weak Organizations
I wanted to stay within the area of multinational companies with humongous marketing budgets. This is one of the companies I’ve worked for, SAB Miller. Unfortunately the company is not struggling enough to create a community, a base of engaged fans that they could turn to like Heineken does.
The company makes use Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest but with unbalanced postings, ignoring the social networks from time to time and giving the impression (on Pinterest especially) that they’ve created a page just for the sake of it.

On Facebook, SABMiller reaches out to their followers with un-personal posts about the organization’s initiatives (they enjoy few likes, vs. the hundreds Heineken receives with its posts). More followers are on Peroni Nastro Azzurro facebook page (one of the company’s beer brands) but less engaged consumers.

Lame Pinterest Peroni presence, especially for a brand that is so voguish and targets fashionable people.

The SABMiller twitter page is a bit better, with regular posts, keeping their followers informed about their activities, news in the industry, environmental issues, etc.

COMM0015 – Blog Post #2 | Full-Bodied or Lite?


With the growing movement of supporting “local” and/or “organic” from everything to businesses to groceries, it’s also spilled over to a personal favourite industry of mine.


In Ontario alone there are now over 50 microbreweries, or what they’re more affectionately known as “craft” breweries (because everyone loves something made by hand and with love. Oh yeah, and it’s pretty much an art). You can imagine that a lot of these small breweries are usually small businesses and are still learning the craft of social media. As part of this blog assignment, I’m highlighting two Ontario breweries. One that is on the path of brewing some social media goodness, and one brew crew who I feel they can improve their social media recipe or alas, they’ll become flat and bland.

Let’s take a look at our first company:

From: Brampton, ON

As much as I love HOP CITY products, they can definitely improve their social media efforts. Although they post on both Twitter and Facebook consistently, their posts don’t really showcase any type of brand personality or essence. They usually consist of pictures of their products in one of the many pubs they distribute to. Here are my suggestions to improve their social media presence, and increase their audience reach.

  1. Fully establish the brand –  Although they do have a consistent visual look (but an easily forgettable logo), their online “voice” is pretty flat. They need to establish a personality (deadpan & cheeky? friendly?) This would help determine the tone of their posts, the visual looks of these posts as well as how they will engage their audience on their social media platforms., and more so what platforms to really utilize.
  2. Find stories to tell – It’s definitely not enough to post pictures of their product. They need to examine the history of the company and it’s mission to help draw out storylines that can be told overtime. My suggestions for company stories: What drove the owners to create the company, The relationships they’ve made with restaurants, bars, pubs, etc. Their process in finding new flavours and brewing techniques.
    As people understand the “why” the “who,” and the “how” of the company, they can have an emotional attachment to the brand, and become brand advocates.
  3. Be visually engaging –  Establishing a presence on Pinterest to show what inspires the company. Be it places in the world, places they want to visit, art and design, etc can show a different side of the company. I’d also suggest Instagram and YouTube or Vimeo to give an insider’s look into the day to day operations of the company. Take pictures/videos of the brewing process, events they go to and highlight employees of the company ) just to name a few.
  4. Interact and connect with other like-minded brands – Reaching out to brands they admire and who share similar values would be a great step to grow their audience. When relationships are established, they can do cross-promotion contests on Facebook or Twitter, or even drive more traffic to their website.
  5. Redesign website with social media in mind –  Hop City’s website, looks great but doesn’t really give its viewers to do or to learn more about the brand. They should integrate their social media posts somewhere on the frontpage, to show that they’re “active” and not stagnant.

I think this would be a great place to start for HOP CITY and hopefully make their social media presence as tasty and flavourful as their product.

Next up…


From: Vankleek Hill, Ontario

This company prides itself in brewing its entire lineup organically and naturally, and it looks like that’s how they’ve been able to get so many Facebook Fans and a more than a pitcher’s worth of followers on Twitter. Here’s a short list of the things they’re doing great at.

  1. Personality! – These guys have it, flaunt it and it’s easy to pick up their vibe after reading a few of their posts. I love that they have a monthly mixtape on their website. It gives a good reason for people to come to their site and explore on top of showing people their musical tastes. And we all know that music is one of the greatest connectors of people.
  2. Visually Driven – You can tell they have a good grasp of their brand. Their posts are always linked to a video or a photo, which tells its own story of course. They also have a Tumblr page which showcase the designs they pump out for events they take part of, or just to promote their lineup of beers. As a graphic designer, this is something I totally eat up.
  3. Focused and Steady – BEAU’s has chosen to just focus their efforts on 3 social media platforms. This definitely prevents a small company like them from spreading themselves too thinly across all the social media platforms that are available. They’ve really just chosen 2 strong platforms in Facebook and Twitter, to promote their product, their events and the heart and mission of the company. Tumblr is just a bonus site for those who appreciate good design, and it’s easy for them to post these, as their creative team is always create marketing and branding collateral anyways.


Just like a fine batch of beer, creating a social media strategy must be handled with care and consistency to wield great results. In the case of these two breweries, you can see that having a good grasp of your brand (which is the key ingredient) is always a great start when moving with social media. CHEERS!