Thursday, May 19, 2011

PBR and Americana

Sometimes the contents of the Library of Congress amazes me.  They have so much content that it’s hard to get your head around it all.

This time we have a picture from recently released Color Photos from the Depression.  You can go HERE to see others, but it is this one that I wanted to focus on.



Here you have Part of the South Water Street freight depot of the Illinois Central Railroad in Chicago, Illinois, May 1943…with a PBR Clock prominently displayed. 

I can imagine hundreds (if not thousands) of thirsty eyes looking up at that clock, waiting for the work day to be over so that they could go home (or to a local bar) and have a beer, forget about their troubles for awhile and relax. 

Its pictures like this, that make it easy to see why Pabst is such an icon in Americana.

While not my favorite nostalgia beer (I drink Miller for my Dad and Stag for fun), I am not ashamed to admit I drink PBR upon occasion.  I think it is a great snapshot into a simpler time, and quite a refreshing drink.

Sadly, Pabst has been in the news lately on a more negative note.

It appears that they are moving the company headquarters -

So much for blue collar. So much for Chicago, and so much for Milwaukee. Pabst Brewing Company recently announced that it's moving its headquarters to Los Angeles. The move has taken local officials and some branding experts by surprise. They wonder how the company will keep up its Midwestern image once it's based here in glitzy Southern California.

But the move is a return home of sorts, Pabst was at one point in its corporate history owned by the charitable foundation of a Los Angeles brewing mogul. That's before it was sold last year to a food industry mogul whose sons both live in L.A.

I tend to agree with the NPR (who’s “All Things Considered” is sponsored by PBR) report, wondering if this is a move to be hip and shed the Midwest/blue-collar ties to the past.  I know I used to think of it as “Grandpa’s Beer”, but as I have matured…it’s grown on me.  Instead of embracing that, it appears they want to go after the younger market….just check out their website

While I get that it is a tough market right now (especially with InBev trying to crush all competition), I think Pabst can do both…..embrace who they were, and still appeal to the younger generation. 

While not politically correct, imagine this as a  commercial

Intro – Black and White/Jumpy Home Video.  1950’s Father and Son fishing trip.  Father watches proudly as his coming of age son pulls in a huge bass.  Clasping him on the shoulder, Dad reaches down and pulls a PBR out of the cooler and offers it to him.  As he takes a drink, Dad puts his fishing hat on the boys head, his little boy has grown up.

Flash forward, an old man sits in a rocking chair on a porch napping and a crystal clear summer day.  An old fishing hat (the tie in that this is now the boy all grown up) rests over his eyes.  A US Flag flapping in the breeze. A car pulls up, and he pushes the hat back to see his son get out of the car – a young man in uniform, returning home from the war.  After many smiles and hugs, the father and son sit on the porch (overlooking the same lake?) and Dad says- “Wanna go fishing tomorrow” as he hands the young man a beer…a PBR.

With less than two minutes, you just traversed two generations, made old men nostalgic and also pulled in the military market. 

Embrace who you are, the ol’ Red White and Blue.

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