Scaring Up Sales for Halloween
As Halloween increasingly becomes an adult holiday as much as one for kids, many breweries have discovered that All Hallow’s Eve is a theme to increase sales.
The major brewers have used vampires, skeletons and jack o’lanterns, and slogans such as “I vant to suck your Bud!” to boost sales. Elvira, the “Mistress of the Dark,” promotes Coors Light. Miller Lite and MGD have released orange and black versions of their logos on bottles. Miller also packaged beer in cans with Halloween graphics: if you were one of the few who found one in your case of beer, you were a prizewinner. These promotions have become more of a treat than a trick when it comes to increased sales.
A number of microbreweries have seen a spike in sales with the release of pumpkin beers. To name a few, Buffalo Bill’s, O’Fallon, New Holland’s and Shipyard all produce brews made with the addition of pumpkin starch and various spices. The end result is a gourd-geous concoction, resembling a liquid version of pumpkin pie.
The Wychwood Brewery of Oxfordshire, England, uses a spooky theme year-round with their brands. Wychwood is named after the ancient medieval forest of the Wych Wood. Hobgoblin Ale is their largest seller, followed by such beers as Black Wych, Circle Master (or Scarecrow, as it is known in the United States), and Fiddler’s Elbow.
This year they will introduce a line extension, WychCraft, with original art commissioned from Chris Bohanna, who first gained fame from the many album covers he designed for the rock group Molly Hatchet.
Collectors seek out Wychwood labels because of the ever-varying graphics used in the designs. Even their tap handles have a scary look about them: the first Hobgoblin tap handle was a bloodied axe. The newest version features a goblin clutching a sword while sporting a sinister look.
Rogue Ale’s number one selling brand is the Mai-Bock style known as Dead Guy Ale. Micro consumers easily recognize the logo of a cross-legged skeleton sitting on a barrel. A pinnacle collectable is the ceramic tap handle for Dead Guy Ale: a three-dimensional version of the skeleton on the keg.
Each year leading up to Halloween, this brewery issues glow-in-the-dark versions of Dead Guy growlers and 22-ounce bottles. Rogue also issues a glow-in-the-dark wristband, similar to the Lance Armstrong yellow band, distributed to promote the “Rogue Strong” lifestyle. There are even Dead Guy condoms that are said to glow in the dark! Of course, no collection would be complete without the glow-in-the-dark Rogue Dead Guy yo-yo.
For a number of years, Pete’s Brewing Co. also capitalized on Halloween. Naturally, when your major brand is named Wicked Ale, Halloween is a natural fit. For the last big marketing push, the company sponsored a number of Rob Zombie rock concerts.
Lots of people decorate their houses for the various holidays, especially Halloween. I simply drag out the collectables affiliated with each occasion and leave the generic decorations on the shelves at Walgreen’s.
“Beer Dave” Gausepohl has collected breweriana since 1974 and has a personal collection of half a million items. He has visited over 1,500 breweries.