A new Genesee generation? Brewer sets out to remind consumers in campaign

Remember Genesee? Maybe not. The name might ring a bell with older beer drinkers -- especially those living in or near its home field of upstate New York -- but these consumers may wonder whatever happened to brands like Iron City, Schlitz, and the Rochester-based Genesee Brewing Co. Genesee's new owner, North American Breweries, wants to fix that not only by reminding consumers that the brand is still strong, but reaching out to a new younger generation of Genny drinkers with a marketing campaign early next year.

Genny is just one of several older brands that NAB wants to boost, according to Peter Bodenham, its VP of marketing. Others include Seagram's Escapes, which NAB is licensing from Pernod Ricard USA; Genesee's line of Dundee craft beers; and Labatt USA, he says.
It's the first time many of these brands will have been marketed significantly in nearly a decade, Bodenham says. "Genesee is a brand that a lot of people want to see win. People have connections or have heard of the brand, but because of instability of ownership, especially in the last three to four years, we saw a brand that was at one point making 3 million barrels a year go to one-half million barrels per year."

Sales for Genesee and other beers manufactured by Rochester brewery High Falls have declined 1.5 percent year to date, in line with the rest of the beer industry, according to Advertising Age. To revive Genesee, NAB will not only have to battle that decline but convince consumers to choose it over rivals like Anheuser Busch InBev (BUD) and Molson Coors Brewing (TAP).

Bodenham did not disclose the cost of the campaign, which will include radio, online and in-store promotions, or describe details of the creative. NAB, owned by private-equity firm KPS Capital Partners LP, was created earlier this year when KPS purchased Genesee Brewing, Labatt USA, and the license for Seagram's Escapes.

The goal of the campaign will be to reinvigorate the brand in the states with highest loyalty to Genesee -- New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania -- and then expand to other states in the region, such as Michigan, Bodenham says. The brewer also wants to reach younger drinkers, mostly men between 21 and 29. And the recession may boost a Genesee revival, Bodenham says, among consumers who want ecomomically priced American beers.

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Sheng Li, Reuters / Landov
Sheng Li, Reuters / Landov

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