I’ve been watching a bit of hockey on TV recently, mostly due to having sold my regular tickets to bandwagoners at three times face value (hope you enjoyed the Kings, dumbass, I’ll be enjoying the two playoff games it just bought me).
If you watch hockey on TV (or any other sport, I would suspect), you will see an awful lot of commercials for macro beers, showing people having grand old times in the outback, or sometimes just the outback itself, and very rarely will they have anything to say about the beer itself. That’s fine; as we’ve discussed before, macros are selling their product on brand value alone, and that’s a marketing strategy as old as time.
However, every few years they get a bit cocky and try to talk about the product itself. This invariably goes horribly wrong, as the last thing you want to do when you’re hawking shiite is talk about the quality of the shiite. EG: “I get it. It’s very fine grained and a possesses a ‘striking’ nose, but honestly, am I the only one here who realizes we’re talking about a pile of steaming shiite? NO I DON’T WANT TO TASTE ANY!”
This is why, after a brief experimentation with such a campaign, or perhaps even making a new product built on being “not quite as Gord-awful as our regular schlock,” the macros write the whole experiment off as a loss and go back to convincing the mouth-breathing inbred yokels that comprise 80% of the general populace that their products will make you sportier, more attractive to whichever sex gets you going, or maybe even give you superhero powers or something. Then, in about 6-10 years or so, an executive changes positions and they try again.
It would appear that Molson has entered one of these phases, only with a twist. Rather than make a marginally different product and claim it’s better (which is the same as claiming your regular product is worse), they’ve decided to make the exact same product, stick a different label on it, and claim it’s better. This style of imaginary marketing is not new, for instance Head and Shoulders tried it before, even if they didn’t go all the way with the concept.
And thus we now have to deal with endless ads about “Molson M” which is, as the ads inform us, “The world’s only microcarbonated lager.” As well, Molson proudly proclaims on the same screen that “microcarbonated is a trademark of Molson, Inc.” This, my friends, shows what a fantastically low opinion of their target audience Molson has. Anyone with even a layman’s knowledge of trademarks will confirm that trademarking a term (and patenting a process, which is in the works) guarantees you’re the only one able to use that term. The fact that they then present this information on the same screen–a screen with absolutely no other information on it whatsoever–shows that they’re solidly banking on the yahoos reading it having no idea what the hell a trademark is, aside from it being “good” in some vague yet undefinable way.
Ok. Phew. Deep breath. We haven’t even started on the meat of the matter here, which is what, exactly, is microcarbonation? I mean, aside from a term trademarked by one of the most evil companies in Canada and then strewn willy nilly all over my blog almost as a dare? Well, going by what scant information Molson has deemed appropriate to release about their new innovation, microcarbination is, um… hmm… actually they don’t say, at least on their website which seems to want to avoid the topic if at all possible. On the TV ads, they seem to suggest that microcarbonation is essentially carbonating the beer as per usual, except with very very tiny bubbles. No really, I didn’t make that up. That is seriously what they’re saying.
Again, it all sounds vaguely interesting. I mean, Guiness has based an entire business on tiny bubbles, and that’s working for them right? Well, not really. Guiness of course uses nitrogen to make those bubbles, which is different (more detail on why). Molson is just using regular old CO2 to force carbonate their regular “lager” after brewing, only instead of hooking up a valve and calling it day, they are apparently bubbling the CO2 through the beer itself which makes… not a lick of difference, actually. All the beer will absorb the CO2 just the same in the end.
But ya know what? I’ll give them a chance. So, to any Molson PR rep who is reading this, before you forward the URL to legal, send me some M and some regular Canadian. I’ll drink ’em both (and share with friends) and put up all of our honest, unfiltered opinions right here. I won’t even use the opportunity to grandstand about how craft beer is much better than macro (well, any more than usual), but rather I will focus on one simple question: Does microcarbination make any discernible difference what-so-ever?
/Yeah, I know offering to drink Moslon is a bit risky, but c’mon, as if I’ll be getting anything in the mail aside from a cease-and-desist.
Update: The epic continues in part 2.