Saturday, April 5, 2008

Allow Me to Vent

You may have seen the new Coors Light TV commercial featuring two guys who get together and “vent” (translation: “drink beer”) all day. The release of this ad has coincided with the arrival of Coors’ latest gimmick ... er, innovation.

Coors Light cans now come with a wider mouth and an indentation (“vent”) near the opening. The result, claims Coors, is a “smooth, refreshing pour.” That, and a secret, guys-only codeword that lets you and your pals booze the day away while your gullible girlfriends are none the wiser.

The Vent is only the latest in a long series of Coors Light marketing absurdities. This is the company that brought us such non sequiturs as “frost-brewed” (there is no such thing; all beer is brewed by boiling) and “the coldest-tasting beer on the planet” (what does “cold” taste like? Coors may be surprised to learn this is not in fact a flavor – infuse your beer with spearmint and get back to us). This time around, The Vent leaves us to wonder, what exactly is a “refreshing pour”? Perhaps a non-refreshing pour would be one that, say, deposits beer at your feet rather than down your throat.

In recent years, it hasn’t been hard to figure out what Coors Light’s marketing strategy is (“Our Beer is Cold”); it’s just been a little difficult to figure out why the Coors marketing gurus have pegged their company’s fortunes on convincing us Coors Light somehow benefits more than any other brew from that marvel known as refrigeration. And given what we know about the relationship between low temperatures and flavor suppression, what should it tell us that the folks at Coors urge us to drink their beer as close to freezing as possible? Actually, make that below freezing – a special system called “Coors Light Super Cold Draft” serves up pints with a layer of ice crystals on top. They were going to call it the “Coors Light Snow Cone Machine,” but parents groups complained.

But now, The Vent represents a wrinkle in Coors Light’s marketing scheme, for it does not, alas, have any effect upon the beer’s temperature. So what gives? It seems Coors has identified a second component to refresh-ability: sending beer down your gullet with maximum expediency.

This move could backfire. Consumers may begin to wonder whether Coors is starting to waver from their previously hard-line commitment to all things cold. They risk muddying those pristine, so-deliciously-icy Rocky Mountain waters.

Yet as laughable as it is, the most amazing thing about The Vent is that it’s probably the most meaningful of Coors’ recent marketing contrivances. There is validity to the notion of generating a smoother pour by letting air in to displace those draining suds. Ever heard of shotgunning? Still, whether or not the overeager beer drinker can seal off and thus neutralize The Vent by applying just a little too much pressure with those thirsty lips remains to be seen.

But here’s a less novel suggestion for anyone who wants to let air in while drinking Coors Light, and one that wouldn’t require untold dollars in R&D and marketing: Try a damn glass.

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