Today is the day: the day of the finals of the South African leg of the Stella Artois Draught Master competition. The winner will head off to Buenos Aires at the end of the month to take on other aspiring draught masters from around the world.
Kuli Roberts, The Naked DJ, Ross Learmonth from Prime Circle and SA swimming champion Cameron Van Den Bergh as well as a Stella Artois specialist will be on hand to judge the eight contestants’ nine-step pouring ritual.
The competition is part of the imported brand’s drive to gain a foothold in South Africa, admittedly a beer-drinking nation. (In fact, we’re rated number 23 in the world rankings of beer drinkers, with an average of 59.2 litres per capita consumed each year.)
“’Beer drinking nation’ is the understatement of the year!” laughs Ryan Bauliss-Lane of DGB, the South African distributor of Stella Artois. “South Africans are very brand loyal, with most of the volume drunk in SA been held by three brands. Stella is however a premium offering, offering an opportunity for SA consumers to enjoy, a fully imported beer.
“I think the beer industry is very similar to the car industry; although people who drive a Toyota Corolla, are very loyal to Toyota as a brand. Likewise there are people who are very loyal to their brand of BMW. Then you get the select few that are lucky enough to experience and enjoy their Bentleys. In the beer market there are mainstream brands, Premium brands, and Ultra Premium brands, and consumers will choose, either what they enjoy, or what they can afford. Stella is unashamedly expensive, but hey, ‘Perfection has its Price!’”
Bayliss-Lane says a vital component of their strategy to bring Stella Artois to the attention of beer drinkers is to use social media platforms. A quick trip around Facebook reveals a number of Stella Artois pages, but none for South Africa.
“Facebook, what’s that? No, on a serious note, there are quite a few groups on FB, currently, however no page for South Africa. I am trying to build the brand, and generate content, in order to start social media activity. The aim is to do things properly the first time. There are too many pages on social media sites that are stagnant and this in my view does more harm than good. I can assure you, that Stella is working to put something together, that does the Brand, and medium justice,” says Bayliss-Lane.
“Digital Marketing is imperative to Stella (and indeed all alcohol brands), with the threat of alcohol advertising bans continually being brought up by Government and activists. Digital and below-the-line advertising will become the only opportunity to promote our brands. Digital media/advertising, being as targeted as it is, will be an ideal medium for smaller brands to communicate their message,” he says.
Bayliss-Lane adds the activity and activations will be “predominantly below-the-line, which will be supplemented through the digital realm”.
Today’s draughtmaster finals is a key part of building awareness around the brand. “For the consumer, we want to create an experience, in receiving their favourite draught-Stella Artois. The nine steps are designed to pour the perfect draught, and this is expected when you order a Stella,” says Bayliss-Lane.
“For the Barmen to encourage (and reward one ) them to pour the Perfect Stella Draught. Anyone can pour a decent draught, but Stella Artois is no ordinary draught. The World’s premium beer requires strict adherence to a nine step pouring ritual, that when performed correctly, results in perfection.”
A ha. Well, good luck then to those aspirant draught masters.