Miller Brewing blogs on Anheuser-Busch
This story, from today’s Wall Street Journal, was irresistable. It seems that Miller runs its own beer blog; not that surprising, but the competitive motives are certainly remarkable. Just as politicians are using the blogosphere to communicate directly with prospective voters, huge corporate goliaths have recognized what we see to be a useful form of communicating with an ecosystem. Here’s an excerpt:
MILWAUKEE — Last month, beer reporter James Arndorfer broke a story that Anheuser-Busch Cos. was readying a new brew called Budweiser American Ale. Trade publications and Anheuser’s hometown paper quickly chased the scoop.
With his dispatch, Mr. Arndorfer beat the giant brewer’s own publicity machine to the punch. Making the story more irritating for Anheuser-Busch: Mr. Arndorfer’s beer-news site is owned by Bud’s biggest rival.
Mr. Arndorfer, 37 years old, is a full-time employee of Miller Brewing Co., the U.S. arm of SABMiller PLC. A former reporter for Advertising Age, he now runs Brew Blog, a free Web site dedicated to breaking news about beer. Especially news about Anheuser-Busch’s beer.
Brew Blog is the latest and perhaps most unlikely front in Miller’s drive to rattle Anheuser. Mr. Arndorfer tracks the St. Louis company’s every move, from earnings reports to management changes. He relishes revealing details of its products before Anheuser does.
Though Mr. Arndorfer covers other brewers, he’s “fixated on A-B,” says Harry Schuhmacher, editor of Beer Business Daily, an online newsletter. Mr. Arndorfer responds: “They’re the industry leader. And they’ve been making a lot of news.”
The corporate marketing battlefield has long been strewn with pithy digs in ads and selective news leaks about others’ business woes. But it’s unusual for a company to go to the trouble of creating its own media arm to grind out news on the competition. While the site lets Miller tweak its famously tight-lipped rival, it also gives the company a platform to take a first crack at spinning industry news.
“They are trying to aggressively go around the gatekeepers” in newsrooms and the trade press, says Stephen Quigley, an associate professor of public relations at Boston University. “It’s something you couldn’t do five years ago,” before the proliferation of blogs.