Pabst puts Infamous PR on tap as North American AOR

The brewer is trying to go beyond hipsters to reach the next generation of American consumers.

LOS ANGELES: Pabst Brewing Company has named Los Angeles-based Infamous PR as its PR AOR in the U.S.

Infamous will handle all of the brewery’s branding comms efforts, which are focused exclusively in the U.S., according to Justin Medcraft, marketing director for Pabst.

Medcraft said Pabst signed a year-long contract with Infamous that is set to begin at the start of 2019. He did not disclose the financial terms of the deal that was signed in November.

The search for a PR AOR began a year ago Medcraft said. Pabst had reached out to three or four agencies before choosing Infamous. The beer-maker did not issue a formal RFP.

"It was 100% informal," he said. "It all started with a conversation, though we definitely shared a brief and some objectives we wanted to achieve. We had casual conversations with a lot of agencies just to get a perception of how they see the best way to drive the conversation."

Medcraft explained that a formal RFP process would not have helped him find the kind of agency for which he was looking.

"The reason why is this is kind of [situation] where brands and the culture are heading at the moment," he said. ‘The most valuable conversations are the ones that happen the quickest and we really kind of valued the speed of thought and ability to connect in real time in a conversation. We wanted that agility rather than the ability to put together a big traditional pitch."

Prior to hiring Infamous, Medcraft said Pabst had been handing comms duties internally and did not have an AOR, but that was limiting his company’s ability to reach target audiences.

"When I joined the team, I recognized that there are so many cross-cultural things that Pabst and Pabst Blue Ribbon wasn’t taking advantage of," he said.

Medcraft said he is counting on Infamous, which bills itself as a culture and music-focused agency and represents artists including the Wu-Tang Clan, producer and DJ Eric Prydz, Pete Tong, and others, to introduce Pabst to a younger consumer.

"Our overall strategy of the brand is to connect with the next generation of America," Medcraft said. "The powerful thing about Pabst Blue Ribbon is it’s always been able to have a deep connection to that new American consumer. Fifteen years ago, Pabst Blue Ribbon was deeply connected to younger consumers of that time. We’re now trying to do that with the next generation of America and trying to discover how can Pabst Blue can have a meaningful conversation with them."

Pabst has three goals it wants to hit next year, Medcraft said. First, it wants to contribute to art and music cultures by supporting creatives who are forging their own path. Secondly, it hopes to create products that meet their lifestyle needs, and finally it wants to identify places and be readily available where consumers come together.

Pabst Blue Ribbon’s fortunes have improved over the last decade, according to The Wall Street Journal. However, the company, along with most beer brewers, has seen sales drop recently as alcohol consumers switch to spirits. Pabst’s 2017 sales dipped to 2.5 million barrels from 2.7 million three years earlier, according to the Journal, reporting statistics from trade outlet Beer Marketers’ Insights. Pabst Brewing and MillerCoors settled a lawsuit late last month that would enable MillerCoors to keep brewing Pabst beer "for many, many years," according to a statement from Pabst.

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