New Ulm-based Schell Brewing Company hasn't survived and thrived for 147 years by being flashy, or throwing money around. You won't find them using bikinied beach babes or big-bucks sports tie-ins to sell beer.
Schell uses the same philosophy with its Grain Belt label, which it purchased five years ago. Research shows that Grain Belt drinkers are a different breed, drawn to the brand's retro appeal and counter-culture image.
"You have a little term we use, 'independent influentials', shared Schell CEO Ted Marti. "These are people who don't follow the main trends, they tend to set their own trends. I think small and quirky are sort of their trademarks."
For the past few years, Marti and Schell have tried to tap the quirky side of those customers, through a 'Make Your Own Grain Belt Premium Commercial Contest.'
This year, 38 teams wrote, shot, and edited their own unique spots with Grain Belt Premium Beer as the centerpiece.
Some contestants, like a crew from Dream World Productions, are working on the high end of things, with high definition cameras, effects packages and other toys. Still, their approach to their spot, featuring a party hardy, can slinging superhero known as "Grain Belt Man" is anything but serious.
"It's just an excuse for us to get together, and have a party with a video camera," laughed Kurt Schmidt, producer of the commercial. "We all love Grain Belt anyways, so it's just an excuse for us to get together and drink Grain Belt, really."
Fun isn't the only motivator. Top prize in the contest, selected by a panel of 13 judges, receives $1,000 and a one-year supply of Premium. How much beer that is, however, seems open to interpretation.
"Take it from Grain Belt Man, a case a day," insists Andrew Vickers, who plays the sudsy superhero.
Producer Schmidt took it one step further. "For me, and maybe some of the other guys here, it must be like a truck kind of following you around, keeping an eye on when you'd need a beer."
Schell C.E.O. Ted Marti is a bit more conservative. "I think it's 52 cases. I think a case a week."
After watching and rating all 38 spots, the judges will select the top three, which will be revealed September 12, during the Grand Awards gala at the Ritz Theatre in Northeast Minneapolis.
There will be two showings that night, which are open to the public. Those who attend will vote on a 'People's Choice award, which brings with it another tier of cash prizes.
(Copyright 2007 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)