Blue Moon, Leinie's Moving to the Big Tent


Dear Client:

Tenth & Blake chief Scott Whitley sent out a memo yesterday to distributors, obtained by BBD through nefarious means, saying marketing for the Blue Moon and Leinenkugel's brands has become too big for the MillerCoors' craft/import division to handle.

"Given the current size and scale of these powerhouse brands, and the capacity needed to fuel their further growth, we will be moving the marketing departments of Blue Moon and Leinenkugel's out of Tenth and Blake and into the MillerCoors organization," Scott wrote.

Blue Moon and Leinenkugel's marketing teams will transition out from under Scott's wing and into MillerCoors CMO David Kroll's marketing organization, effective immediately. T&B's innovation group will also make the same move.

Bryan Ferschinger, senior director of innovation, is being promoted to VP, national craft and innovation. Blue Moon and Leinenkugel's brand director, Ryan Hemsing, will stay put and report to Bryan.

However, T&B's sales team "will continue responsibility for Blue Moon and Leinie's," (Ed. Note: that way, there will be even less communication between the sales and marketing departments). And also of note is the fact that T&B will "continue to house the prestige import brands" like Peroni and Pilsner Urquell.

MORE LEVERAGE. What's interesting is T&B has handled the marketing for Blue Moon/Leinie's since its inception and they've been pretty damn big throughout that duration.

So why are they too big all of a sudden? The answer lies in the power of negotiating national ad buys, (and with national accounts). It represents major buying power when you have Coors Light and Miller Lite as your marketing dollar work horses. More negotiating power.

And maybe T&B is seeking a small persona. T&B's craft portfolio has "grown exponentially within the past 10 months," Scott said, tacking on Saint Archer, Terrapin, Hop Valley and Revolver. "Thus, we've decided to focus Tenth and Blake on these strategic new partnerships in order to ensure their effective integration into the broader MillerCoors system, as well as providing the care and attention they need to expand the right way."

In other words, T&B is now "the business development arm of MillerCoors," Scott said, "tasked with building and expanding our new craft acquisitions and exploring future Molson Coors craft and import opportunities."

The shift, Scott said, "will allow a deeper focus and commitment on these two strategic brand families, while enabling Tenth and Blake to focus on the development and integration of our new craft partners into the MillerCoors system." Scott and company believe "this new strategy will enable our national crafts, prestige imports and craft partners to play an even larger role in getting MillerCoors to growth."


Remember C.R. Goodman? They were pioneering craft distributors in the U.S., they got their start in Texas, and later sold that operation to big A-B Dallas/Fort Worth distributor Ben E. Keith in 2008. After that, the founders turned their gaze to launching successful craft brewer Karbach in Houston, while maintaining a craft beer distributorship in Colorado also called C.R. Goodman.

THE DEAL. Yesterday, Colorado's C.R. Goodman announced it would sell the assets of its business to Breakthru Beverage of Colorado (formerly liquor Beverage Distributors Company, now owned jointly by big liquor distributors Wirtz Beverage and Sun Charmer).

LET'S SPECULATE. As one longtime Truth Squadder pointed out, the C.R. Goodman sale looks like a "clearing of the runway" for an A-B acquisition of Karbach. As in: "We want to keep you running Karbach, want your undivided attention on it, and don't want to be your competitor in Colorado. So, decide what's important to you." Makes sense, no?

The muddling and un-muddling of the tiers continues apace. It's going to be a major theme of our Beer Summit. Stay tuned….

Until tomorrow, Harry

"Speak when you are angry--and you will make the best speech you'll ever regret." - Laurence J. Peter

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