‘You’re actually buying crafty marketing.’
This summer, if you’re anything like me, some weekend evening you’ll sit on a patio chair after a long, hot day of yard work and reward yourself with a cold beer.
Not one of those watered down corporate brews the rest of America drinks. No, a hard day’s work calls for something special, something above average. An artfully crafted micro brew.
You reach into the cooler and pull out an icy Belgian ale, this one from Blue Moon.
You’ve probably seen their commercials on TV. The guy talks about going from bar to bar, showing people how a slice of orange on the side of a pint makes drinking it even more special. And man does it hit the spot on this summer day.
You know it’s “artfully crafted” because it says so right on the label. Their website even says the beer was “born in a ballpark,” for crying out loud.
Only, it’s not a craft beer. Or a micro brew. Yes, the Blue Moon brewery is in a stadium. The stadium of a major league baseball team. A stadium is also known a Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies, to be exact.
Yeah, that Coors. The one that merged with Miller Brewing to become MillerCoors, the American beer brewing behemoth owned by Canada-based Molson Coors.
It is not a micro brew by any stretch of the imagination.
In 2015, beer drinker Evan Parent filed a lawsuit against MillerCoors alleging the company tricked him and others when they advertised its product.
The company presented the beer as “artfully crafted” and produced in a small brewery in it’s marketing. In fact, it is mass-produced in large plants.
Mr. Parent’s attorney summed it up this way on a local news report. “What this case is really about is people think they’re buying craft beer and they’re actually buying crafty marketing.”
In fact, MillerCoors has been brewing Blue Moon for over twenty years. But its name is not anywhere on the bottle. Nor is it on the Blue Moon website, which to even the keenest observer looks like that of an independent micro brewer.
In his lawsuit, Parent alleged this was a strategy used by the company to make consumers think Blue Moon is a craft beer.
He may have a point. MillerCoors charges up to 50 percent more for Blue Moon than it does its other products.
In the end, Mr. Parent’s lawsuit was thrown out. The judge saying, “At best, these advertisements contain generalized, vague and unspecified assertions that amount to mere puffery upon which a reasonable consumer could not rely.” And not a concerted effort to deceive customers.
You don’t hear ‘puffery’ every day.
Whatever your feelings are about craft beer and corporate conglomerates — I’m not going to judge here, but really people, there are some amazing craft beers out there — one thing is probably very clear to you about this story:
MillerCoors goes out of their way to make Blue Moon look like a hand-crafted, small batch beer.
And they still do. You can go to your grocery store and look at a Blue Moon label today, and you won’t find MillerCoors anywhere on it. Or go to bluemoonbrewingcompany.com and see words like “artful” and “inspired,” but no mention of the massive company that owns it.
And now it’s out there forever, on the Internet in articles like this.