New York's Beer: Born Again
With a new marketing strategy, a Tufts graduate is reviving 120-year-old Rheingold Beer as New Yorkers’ beer of choice. New York City.
Medford/Somerville, Mass. [02.26.03] At its peak in the 1950s, Rheingold Beer was one of New York's top brews - with everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to John Wayne to Bob Hope serving as its representatives. But local breweries gave way to national conglomerates in the 1960's and 1970's, and Rheingold largely disappeared in the Big Apple. But a Tufts graduate with a long record of successfully reviving brands is infusing new life into the 120-year-old beer by re-establishing Rheingold as a fixture in bars across the city.
"New York is absent a beer of major hometown significance," Thomas Bendheim - a 1985 Tufts graduate and chief executive of Rheingold Beer - told The New York Times. "This isn't about rehashing the past, but our brand has a history and authenticity. We've been around since 1883."
To restore Rheingold's prominence, Bendheim and a group of investors have infused $1 million into a new advertising campaign for the beer.
"Rheingold is still paying homage to its heritage, but the focus is on its hometown," reported the Times. "The beer has a new slogan ‘100 percent New York by volume' and new packaging, a clear glass bottle with a painted label (a la Corona) that harks back to its own packaging in the 1920s. Rheingold even exhumed its 1930's ad slogan ‘Good Beer,' which appears on the bottle caps."
The company also revived its once-popular "Miss Rheingold" competition.
"The new Miss Rheingold - who will be selected in March - will make guest appearances and appear in billboard advertising, just as she did in the 1950's when the contest drew millions of ballots and competed with Miss America in popularity," reported the newspaper. "Back then, the toothy winner was a classic All-American beauty meant to personify the Rheingold brand. So what's different? The new Miss Rheingold will be one of New York City's bartenders, the kind of woman who is more likely to sport a tattoo than high heels and a swimsuit."
It's a careful mix of the beer's storied past and its new vision for the future.
"We're all about creating a buzz instead of a blitz," the Tufts graduate, who built his career building brands at Dooney and Burke handbags, Lenox china and Pepsi, told the Times.
In March, the beer will begin appearing in 1,800 locations around New York City. Analysts expect the company to rack-up $1.4 million in sales in 2003 and nearly $50 million by 2007.
"We will become New York's beer again," Bendheim told the Times.