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Shiner Beers CMO on Adapting to Change and Growing a Brand

Trying to Expand 10 Years Ago, 'We had a Personality and Identity Crisis'

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Charlie Paulette, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer for Shiner Beers, had a few words of wisdom about brand evolution at the Ad Age Small Agency Conference in Austin, and he's certainly in a position to know.

"Every six to ten years, people change," he said. "There's a new group of 21-year-old, legal-drinking-age males who don't give a crap about what you drank 15 years ago."

The company, which still has its longtime brewery in Shiner, Tex., and its headquarters in San Antonio, hit a few walls when it tried to expand beyond Texas over ten years ago, he said. For starters, it hired agencies outside Texas that produced work that looked too commercial.

"Some were starting to look like Coors Light ads," he said. "We didn't like that. They were trying to come up with more organic ads, but it wasn't happening."

"We had a personality and identity crisis," Mr. Paulette added. "As a client you just know when you've got work you need, whether it's packaging or an ad. When you get there it's beautiful. We weren't there."

Then Shiner conducted a new agency search and hired Austin, Tex.-based McGarrah Jessee to support everything from product development to advertising. Since then, with the help of the agency, the company has injected its Shiner and Austin roots in its messaging and advertising.

The company saw an immediate boost in sales and is still growing today. It's currently the fourth largest craft brewer in the country, with a presence in 47 states, Mr. Paulette said. Over the past three years, the media budget, although small, has doubled, he told Ad Age after the session.

He wrapped up the day with a tasting of the company's latest brews, including its new Belgian White Ale.

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