Rheingold Beer revives its spokesmodel competition

NEW YORK: For those who like a little cheesecake with their beer, last week Rheingold Brewing Company resurrected a tradition associated with its most successful years: the Miss Rheingold contest.

NEW YORK: For those who like a little cheesecake with their beer, last week Rheingold Brewing Company resurrected a tradition associated with its most successful years: the Miss Rheingold contest.

At an event in the East Village, the regional brewery chose the first Miss Rheingold since 1965 from a group of 13 New York City bartenders.

The winner, Kate Duyn, will reign for a year, making appearances on behalf of the beer.

The contest offers a twist on a tradition once marked by lily-white models.

In their place was a collection of tattooed, tongue-wagging, scantily clad barkeeps.

"We are very much making this of today, but with a sense of the past," said CEO Tom Bendheim. "We want to reflect the diversity of New York."

The contest is a fit for a grassroots marketing strategy that has led to Rheingold's comeback. Started by German immigrants in the 19th century, the company held a 35% market share in the New York region by the 1940s.

But the smaller brewery couldn't compete with behemoths like Anheuser-Busch, and shuttered in 1976.

When the company was relaunched in 1999, it became a media darling. The Miss Rheingold contest alone led to three placements in The New York Times over a two-week period last month.

"It's a great New York story," said Leslie Stevens, partner at LaForce & Stevens, the New York agency publicizing the contest. "People remember how popular Rheingold was, and they have fond memories."

The contest also reflected the city's capacity for throwing a few back.

At the event, the organizers said, 350 partygoers drank 1,920 beers in a 90-minute span, for an average of more than five beers per person.

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