Molson Coors keeps pouring the queer near-beer, and, seemingly, no one is able to stop them

Let’s raise our flimsy plastic cups, then, to the management team of the Molson Coors brewing works. These “Mooks,” as we industry observers respectfully call them, lately have shown no hesitation in bringing to market unorthodox brands and formulae, of the sort you’d imagine their competitors might briefly consider, during consultant-induced flights of fancy, only to quickly reject after all the wretching has subsided following the focus group session. Molson’s corporate ability to introduce one wacky new brand right on the heels of another is exactly what the Mook brain-trust would wish to have business-writers describe as “innovative” or “nimble” or “risk-embracing,” but, somehow, those are not the terms that ever come to mind.

Rather, several who have sampled this spate of new products have used the phrases “quirky” or “perplexing” or “pretty much unfathomable” — or, if the reviewers are in an especially bad mood and disinclined toward putting a lot of effort into phrase-conjuring, there is always the old reliable “yuk.”

It would not be entirely fair to apply the last descriptive across the board, however, since it really only applies directly to Molson 67, a seltzer-based tincture, into which a vauge suggestion of lager has been callously set afloat. This must be the stuff old Lucifer is forcing H.L. Mencken, and his Baltimore barroom chums, to perpetually drink in Hell, as retribution for having loved the hops too well in life.

Molson continues to promote their diluted beverage as a friend to dieters, although there is scant evidence to support the rumor that the product was named to commemorate Karen Carpenter’s body weight, as recorded in the autopsy report. (We make further light of this ultra-light brew in this post.)

No sooner had beer-aficionados grown accustomed to declining proffered bottles of Molson 67 (using the ritual retort, “No, thank you. Why not save it, and pour it over your petunias?”), when the company brought forth another surprise, a beer chock-full-o’-air. That was the so-called Molson M, with the M supposedly designating “microcarbonation.” Whereas everyone I know recognizes that the letter actually stands for: “Mmmmmaybe you’d like to take that away, and bring me a pint of something I’m not ashamed to be seen with.” More here about this beer that wants to be known, with all due creepiness, by the 13th letter of the alphabet.

Perhaps responding to the realization that naming a product “M” could only be an open invitation to Mockery, the Mook managers last week re-drew their organizational charts. Pete Coors slipped quietly into a vice-chairmanship, and a seventh-generation dauphin of the other founding famb’ly, Andrew Molson, was elevated to the chairman’s gig. Possibly old Andrew is a tad more attuned to what the man-in-the-beer-store whispers behind the Mooks’ backs, since he also happens to own a couple of big public relations outfits in Montreal, National Public Relations and Cohn & Wolfe Canada.

Or perhaps not. It’s easy to envision Andrew’s first day after being put in charge of the place. He may have proclaimed: “My PR experts tell me that customers find the names we’ve given our new products to be ridiculous! Ridiculous! No more of these ridiculous brands! Things must change. I want the name of our next new brand to be sublime, not ridiculous. Do you hear me? Sublime! Always aim for the sublime!”

To which the product development team must have shrugged and said, “Youse crumbs hoid da boss.” That would explain the following press release, issued just recently: “Molson Coors proudly launches Molson Canadian 67 Sublime.” The bumpf rambles on to explain the brand is “a new beer certain to prove all the rage on outdoor terraces… this summer.”

Taking in the full measure of this venture involving the cross-breeding of a very sorry lager and green Kool-Aid, you’d need to conclude that the project offers all the elements necessary to gain entry into the annals of bad-marketing history. Seemingly, each box has been ticked, every vital question answered:

  • Is this a poor product concept? Yes. It is an singularly unpromising idea, to take a thin, taste-free lager — subdued, you might say — and attempt to add the missing flavor by subsuming a crushed lime gumdrop.
  • Could the brand identity be any more stupid? It could not. Whether you use the ‘sub’ prefix to connote ‘below’ or ‘less than,’ or whether you simply riff on soundalike wordplay (“Finally, there’s a sub-par beer to pair with your meatball sub, or your subgum”), it is plain that Molson 67 Sublime sets a new industry substandard.
  • Does this represent a new bottom in this company’s 225-year brewing tradition? No. This low-cal alco-gazosa should only appeal to a tiny segment of clueless occasional sippers who are unfamiliar with the phrase “Caveat Emptor.” Far more problematic is the Mooks’ stated intention to assault the high-end of the beer-drinking spectrum, by acquiring local craft and specialty boutique breweries, and placing them under Molson oversight. Toward that end, they’ve gone so far as to spin off a new unit, known as the Six Pints Specialty Beer Company. According to one Ian Freedman, who will head up the venture: “The skills and the business model required to be successful in seeding, nurturing and growing specialty beer brands is very different from those required to build powerhouse brands like Coors Light and Molson Canadian.” By which he may be revealing his understanding that if you try to squirt seltzer and lime-ade into a knowledgable beer-drinker’s glass, you may be surprised to find yourself on a direct route to the orthodontist’s chair.

Or perhaps Molson, after spending far too long in what is, after all, a basic sort of game, simply thinks they know better than their typical beer-swilling customers. Perhaps that is what they do indeed think, based on the the headline they issued with the above-mentioned press release: “Molson Coors to Educate Consumers on Quality Beer.” Can they really be that insufferably arrogant, or are they simply that detuned and obtuse? Either way, and regardless of what they’re pouring, the edjamacation is bound to be better than the beer.

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