All That Froth Is Not Beer
It’s that legendary time of the year again where we get an excuse to get great deals on beers and food at our favourite pubs, restaurants and breweries. It’s Oktoberfest in Mumbai! But do we really know what this fest is all about or what it entails apart from beer and sausages? And unlike popular eatery practise in Mumbai, it does not go on for the whole of October!
Oktoberfest is a national beer festival that is held for a few weeks in September through October, in the German city of Munich. It attracts people from all over the world, to visit and try out beers specifically of Munich's six breweries — Paulaner, Spaten, Hacker-Pschorr, Augustiner, Hofbräu, and Löwenbräu. Not many from other parts of the world may know much of this tradition and festival that is marked by the beginning of fall in Germany. It is a festival that is celebrated for the togetherness amongst people, full of fun and frolic. Oktoberfest enthusiasts and veterans gather for the celebration of Bavarian culture in traditional outfits that the historic folk used to wear to work every day and when on the fields. As the culture and community faded, the fest was to keep the tradition alive. Many tourists too try to adhere to the dress code at the festival. At its core, Oktoberfest is really about coming together with music, dance, food and beer and having a good time.
In recent years, it has become evidently noticeable how most eateries in the metro cities in India have cashed in on the opportunity to attract customers despite what they might have to offer. These eateries get creative and innovative as they still have to play to their strengths. Re-naming the various items on the menu and getting creative with puns or German words becomes a yearly affair of branding themselves as the one-stop for Oktoberfest experience.
A restro-pub named Tru-Tramm-Trunk in Mumbai has an interesting proposition to its customers offering beer cocktails instead:- “Forget beer jugs, have you tried beer cocktails yet? Buy 1 beer and Get 1 free at True Tramm Trunk and celebrate Oktoberfest with beer cocktails and German Sliders like beer battered chicken, and tofu buns.” Customers too don’t mind the plethora of options to eat and drink and try new places during the festive time, may it be authentic or not.
Apart from these fun and innocent gimmicks by businesses that are hopping on the back of the Oktoberfest for mileage, there are brands that use the festival for their brand launch and brand messages. Let me state an example of a classic blunder in understanding the sentiments of the customer and getting the brand messaging and packaging wrong. A brand called Rich, launched the product, canned Prosecco - a sparkling white wine in 2006 using Paris Hilton for the sales promotion at Munich. She arrived at the event in a traditional Bavarian dress and plaits to promote the brand which the locals found to be “shabby” and the idea of using the platform for promotion of canned wine unfit for the event. This led to her being banned from attending any of the future Oktoberfests in Munich! Funnily enough the same product angered all the Italians as well as Prosecco is a prized wine of Italy. Additionally, their law defines that all Italian wines have to be bottled. As a result, Rich Prosecco was banned in Italy and even condemned for an Italian wine being sold in cans to the rest of Europe so as to not tarnish the image of the original Italian Prosecco.
Brands should evaluate how their product would interact with the consumers to be a part of their world, to see how the reactions would be in different contexts and cultures. Thus it’s not always about just brewing a good looking brand or product, it’s the research and understanding with it that takes your business from the bottom of the barrel to the top.
Reference: Big Boy Travel. (n.d.). What to wear at Oktoberfest. Blog About Beer. (n.d.). Paris Hilton Banned from Munich’s Oktoberfest! Dabke, M. (2017, October 6). Celebrate Oktoberfest 2017. Trombetta, S. (2015, September 19). What Is Oktoberfest? 6 Things You Didn't Know About This Traditional German Festival.