When you can’t talk about taste – An Analysis Of Coors Advertising

You know what you don’t see much of when you watch a Coors ad? Comments about taste. Advertisement after advertisement focuses on the bottle, or the temperature of the beer or, if they’re feeling really adventurous, on the bottle that can tell you the temperature of the beer.

Of course, there’s a reason Coors avoids talking about it. The product doesn’t taste very good. The beer snob in me loves to rip on Coors’ advertising, but the advertising analyst in me appreciates their strategy. While Coors’ doesn’t talk much about their taste they still try to convey the idea indirectly. For instance, their ads bring up Coors’ long history to imply expertise and give credence to their beers’ quality. In other ads they’ll mention that they use pure Rocky Mountain water, another mark meant to confer quality.

In fact, it’s only when you begin to place all the ads together that you see the tremendous gap in their advertising. But leaving that gap is an intelligent choice. Few people are going to be convinced that Coors is delicious (or, you know, even good). But, taste isn’t the only important aspect of beer to consumers. Beer is also viewed as something that refreshes and relaxes us, and Coors’ advertising targets those areas. What could be more refreshing than an ice cold beer? Well a Coors of course – it’s brewed with ice cold water from mountain snow and the bottles tell you when it’s ready! The can’s designed to get you refreshed quicker than the competition! 

More or less, Coors strategy is understandable. But, I also want to look at it with respect to rest of the market and build off the topic of repositioning discussed previously. Why hasn’t another huge brand like Budweiser attacked them? The big producers are being squeezed by craft breweries, so taking market share from each other may be the key to maintaining or growing revenue. Just from a game theory perspective you’d think it would make sense. When you think about it Budweiser, has a history just as rich as Coors’ and operates in a pretty similar fashion. It also has the same losing proposition against craft beers (even though for some reason that’s who they attacked in their super bowl ad). So why don’t they seize this opportunity to reposition Coors as a beer that needs gimmicks?

Well, Budweiser also may have qualms about focusing too much on taste, but at this point I see it almost as a binary choice for consumers between those brands – they aren’t competing against craft beers anymore. That battle was lost. Instead, they’re competing against each other. It would be pretty easy for Budweiser to run that kind of campaign.

Here’s a simple tagline:

“When you make good beer you don’t need to talk about the bottle it comes in.”

Edit: an astute user pointed out that Schlafly had an ad that made fun of bottle technology a few years ago. It’s not exactly what I’d advocate for, but it’s still worth a look.