Adages: Humble Beef & Pie gives highfalutin Madison & Vine a Shiner

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Adages received a press release about a "groundbreaking marketing program" last week:

"Film Movement and Details partnered with Visa and DKNY, to each produce an original short film from emerging filmmakers. The films are intended to enhance Visa's and DKNY's brand equity among discerning consumers by bringing them smart, entertaining content in a non-commercial context. Each film communicates the brand's unique personality through original storytelling, while retaining the integrity and quality of an outstanding narrative film."

Details is a glossy men's magazine and Film Movement breathlessly calls itself "the first company to release films in theaters and on DVD at the same time." The marketing program apparently is the brainchild of Larry Meistrich, the fabled founder of now defunct The Shooting Gallery, who "produced over 30 films including `Sling Blade'..."

Yadda yadda.

What to expect: More "branded movies" that are not about what they are really about. For example, BMW Films and Chrysler Million Dollar Movies that aren't about the wheels but about "outstanding narrative," such as the death of a war correspondent who kicks the bucket in a dependable Beemer or the heartwarming tale of a guy who wins the girl and takes off into the sunset in a gleaming Crossfire.

What not to expect: a piece of branded entertainment that is all about the brand. Something, for example, like the latest mini-masterpiece by a tiny Texas outfit called Beef & Pie Productions. In partnership with McGarrah/Jessee, an Austin, Texas, ad shop that handles Shiner Beer, a famous regional brew, Beef & Pie director Mike Woolf directed a low budget documentary about a new Shiner product launch for which McGarrah created a new campaign.

Bocks, blondes and bubbas

"Something's Brewing in Shiner" is a deadpan slice of reality, worthy of Michael Moore, with a soundtrack by The Gourds. The film introduces us to the people of Shiner, Texas, population 2,080, a town founded by Czech and German immigrants and home to the Spoetzl Brewery, makers of Shiner "bock and blonde." According to the mayor, all Shiners have three faucets at home for "hot water, cold water and Shiner beer." Local lore: The fire chief was weaned on Shiner suds when he was 2 1/2 years old; draft beer is on tap at the gas station automart; a local wireworks factory has a direct tap into one of the brewing vats; a group of "Old Geezers" get together every morning at 10 a.m. at Tinky's Bar to start chugging, and their motto is "It beats working." The Geezers, like most Shiners, tend to be chubby guzzling bubbas.

The flick's dramatic tension: the Spoetzl brewery is secretly working on a project. Most Shiners speculate it's another dark brew. "We didn't even know what the beer would be," director Mike Woolf tells Adages. The brewery asks the town to taste test the new line of suds before releasing it to the rest of the world. The film then delivers a solid comic punch, also worthy of Michael Moore. The new brew is not something quirky or weird. It's Shiner Light! "If ever there was a town that needed a light beer, it's Shiner Texas," says Mike. The lyrics to a favorite local polka tune capture the flavor of this great little movie: "In heaven there is no beer, that's why we drink it here."

A tempest in a cereal bowl

Fox News pundits are masters of spin, and it's rubbing off on their ad sales people. Insiders at Fox News sales have been calling trade publications telling them that the appearance of a box of Total Corn Flakes in a General Mills-sponsored segment of CNN's "American Morning" news show recently was no accident, as CNN has insisted. According to the Fox spin doctors, General Mills offered the deal first to morning show "Fox & Friends," complete with a product-placement clause. According to the Fox spin masters, a top Fox exec said no way, "We're not in the cereal business, we're in the news business."

Well, it turns out, "Fox & Friends" was once unashamedly in the coffee business. In September 2002, as reported in Ad Age, Fox struck a deal with Dunkin' Donuts that included using their branded coffee mugs as props on set. Bottoms up, boys!

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