Featured: Top of Home Page

Pabst Blue Ribbon

It is tough to know what beer to drink when taste is not the guiding principle. The beer you drink says something more than "I'm itching to get drunk." Like your clothes or car, it shows exactly what kind of person you think you are. It's an occasion for you to communicate important facts about yourself to anyone who reads the label (never have it in a glass -- no one will know what it is and what would be the point of that?). And if you are cool, you should already be aware of this: Pabst Blue Ribbon is no longer cool. AdPulp cites another advertising blog, which broke the story.

Budweiser has been sinking millions into new logos and a big ad push for the last 18 months or so, as we noted here about a year ago. Here on the ground in Philly, we're starting to see it pay some dividends. This Memorial Day weekend, the King of Beers has tall boys sitting in coolers and pint glasses where one year ago you would have found Pabst Blue Ribbon. What happened to PBR, you ask? Some say they succumbed to the Acronym Rule, which states that as soon as your customers know you well enough to shorten your name to a few letters, things are nearly over. Others say they tried to cash in on their hipster status by sponsoring local bands and taking out cheesy ads in alt weeklies. Why couldn't the brand just sit still, shut up, and allow itself to continue to be discovered generation after generation? They took the short view, tried to cash in, and scared away the flighty trucker-hatted Strokes boys who hate, above all else, to feel like they're being sold to. And now solemn old Bud sopping up the macrobrew froth PBR left behind.

The AdPulp blogger doesn't believe the company should be blamed: "Maybe the 'trucker-hatted Strokes boys' are constantly in need of something new to define as cool. Maybe no brand need bother themselves with attempts to appeal to this group. Maybe PBR never did bother with this group, other than to acknowlege their 'flighty' existence."

If only more companies would realize that they needn't bother marketing to hipsters, maybe hipsters would suddenly vanish. Their very fickleness will render them socially invisible. (In a sense, this is already true. No one will actually admit to being a hipster, so it's almost as though they don't exist.) When ads stop trying to appeal to you, you lose one of contemporary society's most power tools of self-recognition along with the primary source of social recognition. Suddenly no one is trying to integrate you into the spending machine; suddenly your dollar no longer seems a vote for the shape your cultural landscape will take.

But it seems as though hipsters are only too visible. But I tend to agree that marketing to hipsters scares them away. Hipsters tend to work by ironizing ads designed for others and trying to subordinate the brand's intended narrrative to the story of how cool and clever the hipster has proven himself to be. One must use a little reverse psychology to appeal to them -- make a really bad beer and market it to the permanent underclass, then the hipsters will come running. Act as though you, the advertiser, are in on the hipsters joke, and you will lose them. The hipster's most important brand is his self-image, so he can tolerate no other brand that seems to have anticipated that -- it feels like competition rather than marketing synergy. When PBR was outré, it provided synergy with the hipster's image of being a subversive. (Look, he takes products not made for him and uses them anyway!) When PBR tried to promote its capability for subversion, it competed with the hipster on his own turf. Budweiser's ads, by contrast, are still allowing the hipster to speak his own language and reappropriate Bud for his own purposes. That act of reappropriation to the hipster is a grand expression of creativity, and seeming creative is one of the hipster's prime directives. Budweiser's long tradition offers the hipster ample material for public acts of meaningless subversiveness.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Music

GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".

Music

Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".

Music

Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

9
Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.