MICROBREW PETE'S GETS SERIOUS;GOTHAM WINS $15 MIL ACCOUNT TO BATTLE LEADER

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Pete's Brewing Co. is boosting its exposure by signing on a new ad agency and significantly increasing its budget.

The marketer, best known for its Pete's Wicked Ale brand, last week chose Gotham Inc., New York, to handle an estimated $15 million account. That's a big jump from what the company spent last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting-just under $1 million on advertising.

Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, resigned the business last year to take on the estimated $30 million Bud Ice assignment from Anheuser-Busch.

`COMPETITIVE FUTURE'

"In a brand-proliferated market like this one, brands have to distinguish themselves," said Mark Bozzini, Pete's president-CEO. "We've been able to do that without significant ad dollars for a long time, but the market is different now. There's going to be a competitive future for craft beers."

Mr. Bozzini won't discuss ad specifics, but said "primarily it will be a brand positioning campaign." He promised the new campaign will be "fun, irreverent."

New creative will break this fall-Pete's strongest quarter because of the increased consumption of dark beer-with a multimedia mixture weighed on a market-by-market basis. In 1994 and '95, Pete's used only trade print ads and spot TV, while so far in '96 the brewer has emphasized trade print. A company spokeswoman said Pete's primary audience is Generation Xers.

Pete's has "reached a critical size and mass," said Stone Roberts, chairman of Gotham. "You can only go so far on word-of-mouth and cult status."

The increased ad budget comes at a time when microbrew sales are flourishing. According to Beverage Marketing Corp., the U.S. specialty beer market has grown 31.7% over the last year.

BOSTON BEER LEADS

Boston Beer Co.-marketer of Samuel Adams-leads the segment with a 1995 market share of 22.2%; Pete's Brewing was second with an 8.2% share.

Although Pete's is gaining ground, Mr. Bozzini said it is not trying to compete aggressively against the No. 1 craft brewer.

"Sam Adams and Pete's can very peacefully co-exist in the marketplace," Mr. Bozzini said.

Boston Beer spent about $12 million for media advertising last year, according to CMR, via Gearon Hoffman, Boston, and Carmichael Lynch, Minneapolis.

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