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Beavertown marketing boss on staging ‘friendly alien invasion’ ahead of lockdown easing

Beavertown’s Tom Rainsford chats to The Drum about introducing the social aspect back to the brand

Tom Rainsford joined Beavertown shortly before the onset of Covid-19. With drinking culture changing dramatically since, the brewer accordingly shifted to a DTC model. Now, as the world opens back up, the marketing director talks to The Drum about putting the social aspect back into its brand with the launch of a new campaign.

“The last few years have been a rollercoaster, to say the least,” says Beavertown’s Tom Rainsford. “From a personal perspective, we’ve never worked in this way for such an extended period of time. We’re all worried about our families, we’re worried about the NHS and we’re worried about the world.”

When the UK government first enforced lockdown restrictions, Beavertown had to pivot fast. “80% to 85% of our trade was in pubs, which all closed overnight. From a brand marketing stance, we had to drive hard and fast to pull the brand back from the brink.”

Drinks to consumers

Marketing director Rainsford says Beavertown had been planning to launch a DTC offering to its loyal consumers prior to the pandemic. When pubs shut, however, it was forced to rapidly accelerate its plans.

“When Covid happened, we launched practically overnight. Instead of doing it over 12 months, we went from one or two people packing boxes one day to 10 the next. And then we had to consider how we could scale up and start offering things like new beers to customers.”

Rainsford explains that bringing popular products, like its Gamma Ray pale ale, to its DTC platform also increased sales. The platform saw significant growth over the course of the pandemic, increasing from £1,000 a week to £100,000 at its peak. Estimates also suggest that sales in the off-trade surged as much as 150% during the lockdown.

Bringing social back

During the worst of the UK lockdown, Beavertown also introduced a subscription model that allowed customers to send packages to friends so they could enjoy the beers together over Zoom.

Rainsford says that subscription model will be put on hold, however, in favor of focusing on activities that can be experienced in person, “bringing back the social element of drinking beer that was missing when we couldn’t all meet our mates at the pub”.

During lockdown, reinforcing the sociability of beer was crucial to its brand marketing strategy. In the spring of last year, the brewery launched ’Beavertown 4pm’ on social media, providing entertainment such as DJs, live performances, design and creativity classes and even beer yoga every Friday at 4pm.

“We tried to get in the mix and make a positive difference, really. But we also had to be smart, culturally aware and relevant to what was happening.

“We’d watch the news and if it wasn’t good that day we’d pull back on certain activities or events until they felt more appropriate. We believe that brands that are vocal in a positive way during difficult times are the ones that will endure, so we tried to do fun things to lift people’s spirits.”

Peace, pints and cans

Rainsford says it is this kind of people-centered creative brand marketing that is at the heart of all Beavertown’s activities.

“The crazy world you see on our cans clearly resonates with people, as well as doing other important things like helping us stand out on the shelf.”

Rainsford says that this magic was the inspiration behind Beavertown’s first awareness campaign, which includes OOH artwork that will go live across buses, national roadsides and the London underground – all featuring artwork by Beavertown’s own creative director, Nick Dwyer.

The campaign hopes to bring the popular aliens featured on Beavertown’s cans to life, staging a friendly invasion and bringing a peace offering of Beavertown beer.

Plus, “space and aliens are always interesting and relevant to culture,” he says.

“We want to use the idea of a friendly invasion that brings peace in the form of pints and cans as a brand message, in the hopes that people will be able to get back to having a good time.”

Rainsford concludes that the aim now is for Beavertown to introduce itself to a wider audience across the UK, with new launches and activities planned for the Christmas period as well as hopes for live events should restrictions allow.

“Most important from a brand marketing perspective is to push all the things that people already know about Beavertown and to push them harder and faster, wherever appropriate, to bring it to a wider audience.”

You can view the campaign in full by clicking on the box below.

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