CUB declines to change 'diet culture' marketing

CUB has declined to confirm it will change the packaging of its new ‘female-friendly’ beer, Spill, despite criticism of the branding from its own influencer.

The Asahi-owned brewing company launched Spill last month in partnership with Coles Liquor, with social media star Abbie Chatfield engaged as a celebrity influencer and face of the brand.

However, the company’s attempts to be ‘inclusive’ hit an immediate snag when Chatfield’s followers called out the beer’s ‘diet culture’ marketing, with Chatfield apparently agreeing with their criticism.

“Genuinely love what you do on so many levels but the emphasis on the calories and the ‘VERY’ low carbs is a miss for me,” one fan noted shortly after Chatfield posted to her Instagram account that the beer had been released.

Chatfield quickly replied saying that she had already raised her concerns with CUB and the labelling would be changed.

“Hey! I TOTALLY agree. There are so many people involved in the making of this beer, and that part of the packaging was NOT approved by me,” Chatfield replied to the criticism.

“We have lots of people and teams working. I already have flagged it with the team who made the packaging, and it’s not going to be on the next drop.

“Like I said, I never approved this to be a “selling point” as I do [not] want to add to diet culture and to me it is irrelevant.

“This was a result of rushed packaging that didn’t go through the approval process from me. So, yes, agree and I’m already changing it!!!!”

Chatfield’s response generated 228 likes, with the original commenter appreciating Chatfield’s response.

“Super glad it wasn’t your messaging and that it’ll be removed for future runs because truly fuck diet culture lol.”

Brews News approached CUB to confirm whether they had committed to removing the beer’s diet-focused marketing messages given Chatfield’s concern. After several attempts, a company spokesman advised it would not commit to any changes.

“Spill’s launch has been very successful and we couldn’t be happier with it,” the company spokesman advised.

“Our packaging is always evolving. But we’re not ready to reveal any changes right now.”

Chatfield did not reply to questions from Brews News.

Inclusive brand or buying influence

CUB has said the beer is “designed to challenge beer stereotypes of hypermasculinity.” The issue will be an interesting test for whether CUB can genuinely engage with a new audience to make beer more inclusive.

It was only a decade ago that the company’s marketers were actively pandering to stereotypes of hypermasculinity by urging men “to abandon metrosexual behaviour and behave like real blokes” in a campaign that served to hasten Victoria Bitter’s slide from its role as Australia’s leading beer.

The company has more recently softened its marketing through its successful Great Northern brand campaigns that have sought to use a “more inclusive lens“, but even the success of that brand has failed to stem the beer category’s declining fortunes.

Chatfield’s value to the brand comes through the substantial following she has created through her outspoken views that resonate with an audience that these same marketers have struggled to reach, let alone engage.

Chatfield has posted about Spill to her personal Instagram account and its 448,000 followers and generated more than 40,000 likes for posts about the beer, while the CUB-operated corporate Spill account currently has fewer than 2000 followers and generates handfuls of likes when Chatfield is not featured.

By contrast to Chatfield, CUB’s largest beer brand, Great Northern has just 46,800 followers on its Instagram account, with Victoria Bitter generating a following of 42,100.

Despite Chatfield saying that she hasn’t approved the brand’s diet focus and that it was “irrelevant” as a selling point to her, that is clearly not the brand marketers’ insight with the beer squarely targeting the rapidly growing better-for-you category, dominated by the also influencer-led Better Beer.

CUB’s media release notes the beer comes “in at less than 99 calories per can with an ABV of 4.2% (and very low on the carbs front*).” This selling point is further reinforced by Coles Liquor Group Australian Beer Category Manager Megan Hodza who felt “sure this low-carb*, <99 calorie lager will be a popular choice at gatherings, parties and events this festive season.”

In a spaghetti-at-the-wall spoiler strategy, Spill is the third beer launched exclusively through Coles, which is gunning for Better Beer as an Endeavour Drinks exclusive. Spill joins the recent launches of Travla and also Brick Lane’s Hi Fi Dry Zero Carb lager.

Interestingly, Brews News understands that Spill joins Coles’ other two brands being made under contract at Melbourne’s Brick Lane despite CUB’s own portfolio of smaller breweries and its significant capacity surplus, that saw it in turn brew-under-contract for failed brewery Broo.

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