Pabst Brewing Company: The Classic Revival of the 'Pabst Blue Ribbon' Brand

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Case Details:

Case Code : MKTG189
Case Length : 15 pages
Period : 2001-2008
Pub Date : 2008
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Pabst Brewing Company
Industry : Beer
Countries : USA

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Please note:

This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Background Note

PBC first started its operations as a vinegar factory in the 1830s in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. It was established by Jacob and Charles Best, sons of a Germany brewer, Jacob Best, Sr. (Best), who settled in Milwaukee in the late 1830s...

Tracing The Comeback Trail

In 2001, the sales of PBC's flagship brand PBR started to increase in Portland. The increase in sales was beyond the comprehension of even the newly formed marketing team at PBC. The newfound popularity of PBR began to spread from Portland to other major cities in the US such as Seattle and San Francisco...

The Return of The Legend

In the year 2002, the sales of Pabst Blue Ribbon PBR grew by 5 percent and in the year 2003, by 15 percent. This was noteworthy, considering that the brand had experienced declining sales for almost two and a half decades...

The Way was The No Marketing Way

What was astonishing was that the revival of PBR happened sans any high-profile marketing campaign and that too at a time when the American beer industry was routinely spending US$1 billion a year on branding and promotional activities...

Who Owns the Brands, Any Way?

The increase in the popularity of PBR gave rise to many questions. It was dissected and analyzed by a number of experts as well as in business schools. In his book Brand Hijack: Marketing without Marketing, Wipperfurth stated that consumers took certain brands taken into their hands and revived them...

The Road Ahead

In 2007, the marketing team at PBC tested a campaign in Columbus and Nashville, Tennessee. The campaign focused on consumer-designed art of PBR on newspaper vending boxes and downtown building walls...


Exhibit I: A Pack-shot of PBR Beer
Exhibit II: PBC: The Last Fortune 500 Ranking
Exhibit III: Brands Owned by PBC
Exhibit VI: The Beer Market in the US
Exhibit V: The PBR Bike Modelled on the Vintage 70s Era Banana Bicycle Seats
Exhibit VI: Fastest Growing Beer Brands in US Supermarkets*
Exhibit VII: Some Awards Won by PBR: 2002-2006
Exhibit VIII: Market Share of Beer Companies in the US in Different Channels


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