Brand Strategy Heineken Marketing

How this London brewer landed a branding deal with Queens of the Stone Age


By Hannah Bowler, Senior Reporter

June 26, 2023 | 8 min read

The marketing director at Beavertown Brewery is on a mission to make the brand globally famous and what better way than to partner with one of the world’s biggest alternative rock bands in time for Glastonbury?

Queens of the Stone Age Paper Machete - Beavertown Brewery

Queens of the Stone Age Paper Machete – Beavertown Brewery

Beavertown, the craft beer set up by the son of Led Zeppelin front-man Robert Plant, has reached a new juncture. Initially riding the first wave of the craft beer hype now needs to become more mainstream to grow outside of London.

Its marketing director, Tom Rainsford, is looking beyond traditional advertising to give audiences an added benefit alongside eye-catching billboards and social spots. “What we are trying to do from a marketing strategy perspective is to make the brand even more famous. Lots of people know us but lots of people don't know us,” Rainsford says.

Beavertown is renowned for its artwork, both on its cans and in its marketing. Rainsford shares that at least once a week a fan will post about getting a Beavertown-themed tattoo. When it came to conceptualizing Beavertown’s summer campaign, Rainsford asked: “How do we take that love and take that artwork and creativity and connect it with people?”

Inspired by the old Levi ads that had music that went to number one and spots like Jose Gonzalez’s Bouncing Ball ad for Sony Bravia, Rainsford has looked to music.

"Amazing advertising and amazing music have always been together and it's part of the culture,” he says. Rainsford admitted that music is not new territory for a booze brand, but he believes “the way we’ve done it is fairly unique and I haven’t seen the visual world of a brand represented through a music video before”.

So how did the partnership come about? Rainsford went out to all the record companies and chatted to artists from different genres and then the opportunity came up with Queens of the Stoneage. “You can’t say no to a Grammy-nominated band playing Glastonbury and playing late Margate last night. We thought: ‘fucking hell this is heavy’,” he recalls.

The idea was to take a piece of music and “smash it into the visual world" of Neck Oil, the brewery's most famous product. The video brings to life Beavertown’s creativity but also contains a “soft” product message. “It fits the overall brand campaign and adds value beyond just being advertising and really, that ultimately is what it's there to do,” Rainsford says.

The project is the second piece of video content to be released by the brand after it dropped a three-minute animation for Halloween in 2022.

Queens of the Stone Age “halo” effect

The video was released in line with Queens of the Stone Age’s comeback album and the band’s Glastonbury performance. Rainsford admits that “from a brand benefit you’ve got all the halo of them doing press”. Beavertown’s media plan was heavily waited on social both organic and paid to best support the video.

Borrowing from record label marketing, Rainsford’s marketing team created fly posters for the campaign. He acknowledged that whilst it's impossible to measure the impact of fly posters for ROI through their association with album releases “it felt like the right thing to do”. The music video campaign last for just two weeks but will be amplified throughout the summer with gigs and experiences and different venues as well as the launch of merchandise.

The Beavertown brand is “visually led”, Rainsford explains, making social and out-of-home the most effective media channels. Rainsford adds: “The focus is on those channels and then adding a layer like the Halloween campaign and the Queens of the Stone Age in addition to festivals and events. That mix I find works for us and I find it helps the brand feel authentic.”

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Post-Heineken buy-out growth plan

Beavertown has had a healthy growth trajectory with sales up from £12.7m in 2018 to £35m in 2020 before the pandemic struck. Heineken took a minority stake in 2018 injecting £40m into the brand and in September 2022 assumed full ownership. A staple tap in London pubs, Beavertown is yet to crack the rest of the UK – “we’ve still got a way to go in the UK”.

Over the last few years, Beavertown has had a concerted effort to grow the key cities of Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, and Edinburgh. But Rainsford says he’s cautious of growing too quickly without protecting Beavertown’s brand equity.

“There are lots of things that we need to continue to do to support that growth. It’s very important that everything you do is a brand, build your brand equity. You can grow really fast and not build your equity at all,” he says. “The strength of the brand and the longevity of the brand will always be better and stronger if you build your build your equity in the right way.”

At Beavertown, the focus on creativity, and on music – like with the Queens of the Stone Age project - and experiences is how Rainsford works to build equity. To get an advantage over the competition, Rainsford says you need to do something beyond advertising that adds value to the consumer.

Through its taproom in Enfield; being present at festivals and putting on exclusive gigs, while they “feel like small things but if you add them all together,” that is how to build equity.

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