Perhaps you've seen it in the news; Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. was looking for a chief beer officer for its Four Points Sheraton hotel chain. The Wall Street Journal published the news on Wednesday January 3. As Peter Sanders wrote, "The position is one in a long line of marketing gimmicks and branding promotions rolled out at Starwood in the two years since Chief Executive Steve Heyer arrived from Coca Cola Co."
The chief beer officer is required to have a passion for and knowledge of beer, strong written and verbal skills, and the ability to work part-time without salary. The position apparently comes with plenty of perks. The applications for the job were accepted until January 12. Hotel Chatter published two short entries on that position in November and a couple of weeks ago.
Aside from representing the company at promotional events, leading brewery tours, selecting beers for hotel menus and attending new hotel openings, the positions includes thousands of Starwood Preferred Guest points that can be used for free hotel stays; leading a group to Oktoberfest in Munich; and representing Starwood at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver in October.
More than 7,000 beer lovers from 31 countries applied for the position. Ouch! That's some stiff competition for a job that doesn't pay. You can vote for the winner over the four candidates chosen by Starwood Hotels here.
Interestingly, Juliana at Hotel Chatter writes "Our money is on Four Points hiring a female CBO. The folks over there say that while only 10 percent of the applicants were women, they all managed to score near perfect on the beer knowledge application test."
You might be surprised to learn that among all my connections, the true beer connoisseur is a woman. And that is why Stella Artois crafted this very clever ad that says "Nothing is as valuable as a Stella"; that little round thing in the plate is a diamond ring, by the way.
The Stella Artois brand is inspiring mass-market brewers now aiming for the lucrative high-end beer market, as Brandweek reports. Stella appealed to foodies by hosting Belgian dinners and landing additional mentions in Bon Appétit and Gourmet.
This premium lager beer, as defined in Europe, is wrestling with the same issues all brands that want to be perceived as special encounter: and that is "How do you grow awareness and distribution while maintaining that discovery element?" This is Anthony Giardina talking, InBev's director of field customer marketing for Stella -- doesn't the name just have a ring to it? And she's definitely a blonde.
You might know that the U.S. distribution rights to this elegant brand, and for most of the InBev portfolio, were bought by Anheuser-Busch. This means that when you look longingly at a nice cold glass of Bass Pale Ale, Beck's, Leffe and Hoegaarden, among others, you are looking at a beverage brought to you by A-B. Not a brand I'm used to associating with premium lager. Distributors are already forming dedicated specialty beer teams to handle the red-carpet treatment that hand-selling and sampling of this brand deserves.
The greatest compliment you could ever receive is from a competitor. So Stella is graciously winking to neighbor Netherlands-based rival, Heineken USA, which adopted its model to a degree. CK beat me to the bar with a brilliant One Sexy Brew post on the new Heineken Premium Light presentation, which was tested in four markets followed by a soft launch at select nightclubs and bars to land into the ready arms of national event-driven marketing.
Although beer has not enjoyed the renaissance of wine, it has its dedicated following. In a book on how to envision the future, Future Inc., Eric Garland uses beer as an example to teach you how to analyze data and trends relevant to beer -- reading the industry literature and comparing experts forecasts -- to envision the developments of tomorrow. "Beer consumption among young people, once the core demographic for beer, is dropping precipitously -- market preference for beer among this group dropped from 71% in 1992 to 48% in 2005," Garland writes.
For Garland, globalization is the hope for the future of American brewers, while America seems to be the future of European premium lagers. It's ironic and so true that we continue to find the foreign and exotic more interesting.
In Italy beer doesn't enjoy the popularity earned in many other European countries, but you will find places where they will sell you unimaginable varieties from all over. The better known local brands are Peroni Nastro Azzurro, distributed here by Miller, and Moretti. For research purposes, I had a hard time proving to my computer that I'm of legal age to drink -- I don't look one day older!