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Beer labels: a real whodunit story

Brewer draws interest to new line of beer by rolling out a detective mystery in cases of its locally brewed Just Beer brand India Pale Ale.
FILED IN:  Package design  > Graphic

The label is an often-underutilized communications tool in packaging, but savvy marketers know that a well-crafted label can give a product a life of its own.

That is what’s happening in Westport, MA, where Buzzards Bay Brewing Co. plans to feature a 12-part serial mystery on labels adorning bottles of its Just Beer brand India Pale Ale. According to the Cape Cod Times, the brewery will roll out “The Case of the IPA” on cases of its locally brewed beer; each case will contain the complete story.

The Times report says that Paull Goodchild, cellar master for the Westport Rivers winery, approaches the brewery about including one of his short stories on Buzzards Bay Brewing beer bottles. Goodchild is a longtime writer of fiction, humor, and song lyrics. Eventually, the brewery agreed, and Goodchild set about writing a whodunit story.

“Anyone who really likes craft beer will laugh a lot reading this story,” Bill Russell, an owner of the family operated brewery, told the Times.

Russell insists the clever labels are not a marketing ploy, but the special labels define exactly what the marketing muscle of the label is all about. Particularly with locally produced and sold products, the right label can give an otherwise mundane product “pickup power” and transform it in an engaging brand, whereas poorly design labels could bore shoppers and cost sales. By making each bottle an engaging part of Goodchild’s short story, this approach shows just one marketing challenge that clever labeling can solve.

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