Bagmaker Barters for Beer

Crumpler Promo Part of Word-of-Mouth Effort

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NEW YORK ( -- Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Guinness? Crumpler, a quirky retailer of sporty messenger bags, has declared it will accept a new currency this month: cases of beer.
Bring in some beer to the Crumpler New York stores and get a free trendy bag.
Bring in some beer to the Crumpler New York stores and get a free trendy bag.

The Australian company will let any customer that brings beer to its two New York stores walk out with one of its trendy bags. The promotion, which began June 3 and runs through June 11, is a way for Crumpler to appeal to a its particular young urban demographic, said Luke Garro, director-network development for Street Attack, a firm helping with the marketing strategy for Crumpler.

Spin wheels
Street Attack has been distributing spin wheels on New York streets that show would-be customers what specific brands of brews to trade for which bags to help get the word out about the promotion. Another 180,000 spin wheels were also distributed in the weekly newspaper Village Voice. Consumers can also go to a Web site to see the spin wheel of trade-in options.

A customer that brings in 12 cans of Guinness can become the proud owner of a Crumpler McBains messenger bag. Or, you could bring in one case of Coopers and two Foster's oil cans and end up leaving with the Barney Rustle bag. And no, the folks at Crumpler aren't going to drink it all themselves. Crumpler will host an event June 11 featuring all the beer collected throughout the week, and all participants in the promotion are invited.

For Crumpler, this is a way not only to get brand exposure, but also to make a real connection with customers, Mr. Garro said. "There's also a story for them to tell -- that's the power of the word of mouth."

Eschewing traditional media
Instead of using billboards or other mass-marketing approaches, Crumpler hopes this promotion will appeal more directly to the types of people who would like their products. "It's appealing to people who like off-the-wall stuff, people who don't respond to other ads or are desensitized to traditional ads," Mr. Garro said.

Crumpler's older branches in Australia have used the "beer for bags" promotion before, but this is a first for the New York stores. Lindsay Cousley, Crumpler U.S.A.'s general manager, said the promotions in Australia met with enthusiasm from customers and typically brought in about 500 cases of beer, although a store in Melbourne once brought in nearly 1,000 cases.

Crumpler's U.S. Web site,, which launched 16 months ago, saw a spike last weekend before the promotion started, and has been getting three to four times its normal traffic since the promotion began, Mr. Cousley said.

The promotion helps Crumpler build brand awareness and create relationships with their customers. However, the original idea didn't come about from a marketing perspective. "It's just something we've always done. It's not even a marketing campaign. It's just for fun," Mr. Cousley said.
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