I love beer. I adore it. I wish I didn't, but I do. The sheer over-whelming, gorgeous, malty variety of it all. So many new micro-breweries, craft ales, and old classics to rediscover. It's as if every postcode now has its own brewery. The rejuvenation of the real ale culture and the craft movement is drawing so many new people into the beer category and giving new life to the pub. And for that, I'm ecstatic.
This is the biggest threat to all the incumbent mega beer brands. You can see it in the direction of all new brand extensions, every redesign of the packaging, every new heritage advert that rears its head. The Universal brief to beer brand agencies is to make their unwieldy Global beer feel small, crafted and artisanal once more. That is what the consumer wants.
In an "epic year" when the independent Brewdog's profits rocketed 69% (had to be 69% didn't it, Brewdog?), Guinness were continuing to lose huge volume in the UK. The Economist reports sales dropping below 200m litres sold, down from 250m litres five years ago. Which no doubt explains Diageo's introduction of the pseudo-craft ale Dublin Porter and West Indies Porter to plug the declining sales
It isn't just beer. It is spirits, foods, supermarkets, clothing, TV, music, gaming. Everywhere you turn, people are rejecting the big boys and turning to the independents. An unstoppable tide of desire to find real craft again, real care, skill and service. To support the underdog, the talent, the people doing it for the right reasons. The ones who genuinely understand their customers and are driven to do the right thing by them.
Clients and Agencies alike recognise this movement more than most. It preoccupies most of our trend presentations, it defines all of our briefs. So why then are we so epically poor at reflecting that movement in our own industry?
The defining trend in the agency world is one of consolidation, of aggregation, of selling out. WPP, Omnicom and Publicis behemoths are the very antithesis of the craft movement. They represent a corporate homogenisation of talents and skills.
So many of the genuinely interesting and compelling independent agencies have been consumed, absorbed into the Borg. Or been beaten down by the resources of the big boys. The industry is worse off for it. The spark, energy and maverick creativity is just what clients need.
Mr. President came onto the Independent scene in 2012, at a time when the Corners, Joints, 101s, Lucky Generals and Sunshines of this World were popping into existence. They are the ones with the care, craft, love and agility in the industry. This is where the interesting and challenging work is brewing. This is where the future lies. These are the Brewdogs of the industry.
What is needed now is for more clients to follow their consumers. To turn from the corporate to the independent. For it is the Independents who will shape the direction of the industry. I'll drink to that.