FT ComMetrics Global 500 blogs case study: Beck’s beer

by Urs E. Gattiker on 2008/12/13 · 11 comments 1 views

in a dos and don'ts,b why benchmark failures,c blogging - case studies,d business Fortune 500

    The Ups, Downs, Ins, and Outs of corporate blogging at a Fortune 500 –  at least as far as size is concerned :-).
    Beck’s (an InBev brand besides Stella Artois and Budweiser) provides a good example for how not to do it – ropes to skip – the entire blog site is in Flash – making navigation a headache
    This post explains why beer lovers will not want to re-visit this blog – read and learn.

Volvo, China Mobile, Nike, Starbucks, Apple, ABB, Swisscom and more – case studies about corporate blogs

Before You Start a Corporate Blog, Tie Your Shoe Laces Properly

happy birthday Daimler – blog that rocks

Earlier this week we reviewed a great blog with a new approach (getting students to write for students – novel approach it ain’t but surely novel for a bank – check it out):

FT ComMetrics Global 500 blogs – case study – Royal Bank of Canada

The above blog will be included in the FT ComMetrics Global 500 Blog Index. So will the one we are discussing today. It is:

Beck’s beer – a blog that violates a few social media best practice guidelines

Beck’s brand is owned by InBev, the Belgian brewer who also owns such brands as: Stella Artois and Budweiser.

We and other social media folks were told that Beck’s marketing agency and staff interviewed more than 1,000 indivdiduals. After all this work they decided on the British standup comedian Darius Davies to serve as the voice of the brand.

I went to My.ComMetrics.com to check how things would look. They look great as far as Google PageRank is concerned – 6. I am quite surprised how this site could have such a high rank. If you dig deeper with our tool, few if any links exist to the site.

The comedian Daruis is supposed to be capable to bring truly engaging content to this blog venture. The content is supposed to be relevant and of interest to the beer’s target audience.

Unfortunately, some social media people have taken issue with this new blog. For instance, the tone of the blogger is bit hard to take. Neither do I know nor can I be sure that the type of content the Darius comedian is serving on this blog is really of interest to beer lovers.

The blog was launched during December 2008.

Unfortunately the entire blog site is in Flash. This is not a very user-friendly platform to create a blog that requires some navigation.

You cannot use your mouse to go through some text nor can you right click or navigate back easily.

Neither can you link back to some image or text. You would have to use Print Screen to use the image and than just link to Becks.com – not really the way you want to do it.

As well it is not really possible to link to a post, image or a particular area of the site because for anybody go gain access you must jump through the age verification hoop and the browser works poorly with Firefox or Opera.

I find that coming up with a reason to return to this blog is difficult for me.

Luckily the RSS feed remains a simple point and click and does not require Flash :-). But even here, if you want to read everything, you have to click on the headline. If you use Firefox …. and the Flash horror starts all over again.

Hence, not even low tech RSS will completely shield you from the horrors of this site. But you can have a look here how the RSS feed will give you trouble if you intend to click on a headline/title:

RSS feed

Incidentally, if you search for Beck’s beer blog on Google you will not find the corporate blog coming up first it is a long way down – not very good:

Beck’s beer blog

Several sites have already commented on this disaster, here is one example:

another joke plaid on Beck’s – Saturday Night Life

Bottom Line

My colleague @KingNils said it much better (see to the left) when he did RT my tweet. Freely translated:

“It is so bad you can tear your hair out and why did they not ask for advice from us.”

An exercise that costs tons of money and will ultimately not deliver the bottom line results Beck’s and its parent InBev hoped for.

I keep watching how this case will develop during the next few months. I expect some drastic changes. Let us hope it is not too late. A lot of damage to the brand has already been done.

  • Irene Fowler


    This post shows clearly that some of the main marketing or advertising agencies seem to fail to understand how social media works. No question, Beck’s blog is not user-friendly.

    As well, I am not sure what target group this blog is supposed to serve. I like my Beck’s beer once or twice a week. Nevertheless, this blog turns me off. Am I as a 35 year old professional not part of the clientel the blog is supposed to serve?

    I am not happy to see Beck’s spend this kind of money and than produce such a flop. A flopt it will turn out to be, no doubt in my mind.

    I wonder if you know of any other brewers or beer brands that have launched blogs, such as South African Breweries, Heineken and so forth. Can you help? I am curious to know. Look forward reading your or one of your reader’s answer(s).

    I look forward reading more case studies about FT 500 Global corporations.


  • James

    Hi Irene,

    I read your comment and I agree with you that the site is a chore to use, however I was somewhat puzzled why you should care so much about the ‘blog’ for it to turn you off. Do you frequent the website often?

    You ask whether you are part of the clientele that Beck’s is hoping to reach with this blog, I am sorry to tell you that you are clearly not the demographic they are aiming for otherwise they would not have chosen a young comic who looks like he should be on MTV. Beck’s core demographic are single 18-25 year old males.

    As a marketing student I have been following Becks.com with interest since they announced their contest for a ‘writer.’

    I have taken the time to read some of the posts and I must say as someone who fits into Beck’s audience I enjoy the posts and I think most of my friends do as well. It was not at what I was expecting and I don’t think I have read anything about beer on the site so it does not seem corporate.

    I have also visited other beer websites as part of my course and the content is very dull and always in flash! The content is usually nothing more than an advert for their beer, at least Beck’s are trying to be engaging.

    Now only if they could sort out that damn flash…


  • Urs E. Gattiker

    Dear Irene and James

    Both of you thanks for the comment left on our blog here reflecting on my post regarding Beck’s blog.

    I tend to agree with Irene and I am not sure if James is correct. Since Beck’s webpage goes clearly beyond the U.S. I must ask James to back up his claim that the brand wants to reach 18-25 year old males only as he says.

    Most brewers record shrinking beer sales year after year. Therefore, reaching women as well might help in at least slowing down the drop in beer sales in the U.S. or Canada. Yes of course, Russia and China both show great promise to pick up some of that slack as Carlsberg has found out.

    Finally, your MTV generation claim sounds great and that you like the content is wonderful. Nevertheless, the site is neither

    – user-friendly nor
    – does the comedian’s content travel well beyond the narrow cultural bounds of the US or UK…..

    But Beck’s has a large customer base in Germany (where the firm orininates from). The Internet knows no boundaries and, as importantly, the blog tries to reach out to everybody (e.g., when you visit, you have to enter where you are located – country). So how well does its content suit 18-25 year olds outside the US. – I doubt very much that they like it…

    I look forward to your answer that clarifies some of these issues including Beck’s target market being 18-25 year olds. I would appreciate being set straight by your insights and facts that you might very well be aware of and know about. Thanks very much.

  • Irene Fowler

    Hi James

    Okay being 30 something does not make me fit in this group of 18-25 year olds. I agree. Nevertheless my girl friends and I love to share a Beck’s and I agree with Urs that Beck’s should not turn us older ladies off….

    By the way, you sound a bit like an employee from either Beck’s or the company responsible for this marketing strategy. Are you maybe employed by Beck’s advertising agency?

    You are quite defensive about this matter and not accepting any of the questions raised by Nils (Daimler blogger I think), Urs or myself. Why so defensive, did this post and my comment hit a raw nerve?

    I still find the comedian Darius is not my cup of tea. As well, humor fails to travel beyond borders. Just consider how many look at the Beck’s blog whose first language is NOT English, will they understand? I did a test with a Russian pal who also drinks Beck’s. Well, he thought the things presented and Darius was not really funny. But again, he is 25.5 years old, so probably not the target group.

    I would love to know if the primary target group for Beck’s blog is 18-25 year old male college folks. Anybody can confirm that from the advertising agency, Beck’s or InBev? James thanks for answering.

  • James

    HI Irene and Urs,

    No Irene you did not hit any nerve and no I do not work for Beck’s or anyone associated with them. Like I said previously I am a student studying marketing in London.
    To address some of the points you raised, you mentioned that Beck’s should not turn you off, I do not see how they are turning you off it is clear that Beck’s are targeting the 18-25 youth market as evidenced by the sponsorships of Beck’s Fusions and other music events and other art events. By your logic Irene, I could say that I enjoy to drink PG Tips tea but when I went on their website it was aimed at 40 year olds, therefore I should not drink PG Tips.
    You both mentioned that Beck’s are limiting themselves by aiming for the UK/US markets – this would make sense to me being as they are their main markets. For the other markets and your Russian friend a cursory search of google shows that there is an Italian, German and Serbian ( I think) local websites, so people can check out their own local site and perhaps they will enjoy the content more.
    I have read the website and as I said before the flash design is tedious but I think you should give Darius a chance after all, he beat almost a 1000(?) other people to get the job and he is writing interesting stuff on a daily basis. When I commented on this topic I did not want to get into an argument but I felt compelled to answer some of the points. The irony is that I do not even drink Beck’s let alone like it!


  • Richard

    Hi there,

    I guess your comments are based around the format of the blog. If the blog was fully standards compliant and ‘traditional’ would you be commenting? I have been following the Blog in question, since I saw it on Adrants (funnily enough this post reads almost identically to the Adrants post). And I agree with you in terms of format, but in some respects I do not. I believe the blog should also have another home away from the main becks.com website, in a WordPress template or whatever – just for the returning visitors and so on.

    The main navigational parts of using a blog, i.e. search, archives, most recent post, they are all there – what more do I need to do? Also I can actually send posts to friends – look at the address bar in the browser and copy it and paste it – you will see you can link to posts. So not sure where you got that idea from?

    I disagree with your comments when it comes to the content of the blog. It seems to be aimed at 18-30 year old men who have an interest in drinking, hanging out with friends, funny tv shows, video games and so on. It’s like having a chat with your mates down the pub, and I actually really like it! It makes me laugh, a lot. I don’t think that by asking a “Russian Beck’s drinker” quantifies that the site is a ‘failure’.

    You comments are like comparing AdAge to FHM magazine, 2 clearly different purposes, aims, and audiences. Is blogging restricted to marketing people only? Are normal people not allowed to read blogs?
    I would be interested to read your suggestions on engaging a mostly male, young audience who have no reason to visit a beer website!

    And no I don’t work for Becks or whatever, I just find this case interesting as a study for attracting an ‘MTV generation audience’ to a brand… and by the way I am 26 years old!


  • Urs E. Gattiker


    Thanks for the visit and taking your valuable time to write a comment.

    I read your comment with interest and was curious how you could come to the conclusion that my post sounds like:
    Adrant – Beck’s Launches Blog. Does Everything Wrong.

    I just now searched and read the above post, quite different than ours and way more negative for sure. Nevertheless, everybody is entitled to his or her opinion of course.

    I fully agree with you that blogging is not restricted to marketing people only. I would support your point. In fact I would go further and state many blogs have little if anything to do with marketing. Instead people’s interests such as technology, games, politics and so forth determine what a blog will cover over the weeks or months.

    I still feel that asking people to have to go through several hoops (including question about country one is located in) before getting access and offering a blog that causes you trouble if using an Apple or a Windows operating system with the Firefox browser is not that fortunate. This is especially true, if we consider how much effort was put into selection Darius for being the ‘host’ and the money spent for this project (including but not limited to the art and design work).

    Nonetheless, the future will tell us how successful Beck’s blog will be. I appreciate your remarks that indicate we have to give it time. For instance, as our analysis for the HSBC blog for start-ups (review coming up within a day or so on this blog) indicates, most corporate blogging ventures take some time before we are can assess if they succeeded in reaching their objective(s) or failed to do so.

    Thanks again for the gracious feedback and I invite you to subscribe to our blog (upper right – enter e-mail). Happy Holidays.

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  • http://twitter.com/seblo/status/140125110311976961 Sebastian Lofvall

    FT ComMetrics Global 500 blogs case study: Beck’s beer » ropes to skip , Google PageRank is concerned 6, Bottom Line http://t.co/qairJ5Zd

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