By now loyal listeners of the podcast and/or readers of the site know that the Blind Tiger crew is not a fan of the multi-national beer giants and have a specific distaste for Anheuser-Busch InBev. Our lack of enthusiasm comes not from the vapid mass marketing or the bland, lowest common denominator beer, or even their aggressive often hostile takeovers of other breweries but mostly their inability to understand their market. Which is on display with their recent move to rebrand Bass Pale Ale to Bass Trademark Number One
At the turn of the decade/century/millenia that was the year 2000 Interbrew bought Bass, one of the oldest and most respected breweries in all of Europe, not to mention the United Kingdom. There was a time when Bass Pale Ale was thee iconic example of an India Pale Ale a style invented by British brewers and now popular the world over. This undeniably popular and universally known beer is a staple of British culture and can be found in bars across the world. It is known simple as the great British IPA with the red triangle logo.
That logo has been around since before 1855. Since 1855, casks of draught Bass pale ale had a colored triangle marker determining where the barrel had originated; red for the Old Brewery, white for the Middle Brewery, or blue for the New Brewery. Yet all bottle of Bass Pale Ale have always had their iconic red triangle.
In 1875 the UK parliament passed the Trade Mark Registration Act of 1875. This allowed companies legal recognition of trade marks and all the protections afforded to them by rules within the law. Legend has it that the night before the law was enacted on January 1st, 1876 a Bass employee was sent to camp outside the registrar’s office to insure he would be first in line to file a trade mark on the iconic red triangle. While there isn’t any official record for this line squatting (a century plus before his time) it is indisputable fact that Bass was granted the first official, legal trademark in the United Kingdom. And it is this fact that has led to the rebranding of Bass Pale Ale.
You might be asking yourself why in God’s name would you rebrand one of the oldest and well known beer brands in the world? Well, mostly because the sales of the English giant have been declining since even before the buy out in 2000. It seems that before but especially during the leadership of AB InBev that this once world renown beer has been slipping in its sales.
How does AB InBev decide to rectify this situation? By rebranding it as thee British IPA? By focusing on its rich history, its authenticity, or its historical position as Briton’s premier beer? Of course not. They have decided to rebrand it after the factoid that their famous red triangle was Briton’s first trademark. So the next time you are enjoying a Bass Pale Ale in a true English pub and someone asks why you are drinking it you can explain to them the intricacies of British trademark law and how historically significant it is that Bass Trademark One has the UK’s first trademark. Because that is what beer drinkers care about; esoteric intellectual property legalistics with their beers.
Could you seriously get any dumber. Who wants to predict how well sales due after rebranding one of the most famous brands in the world. Because renaming Coca-Cola to Coca-“The only company in the US to be able to legally import coca-leaves” is bound to increase sales.
And this is why I absolutely loathe people with MBAs.