Ninkasi: Big Timing the Little Game

Ninkasi Brewing Company began in 2006 with two ambitious Oregon natives who decided to start a beer brewery, brewing their signature Total Domination IPA for the first time. Since then they have grown exponentially and moved to the historic Whiteaker neighborhood of Eugene, Oregon, while still keeping the local brewery feeling.

In 2012, Ninkasi has grown to feature a 50-barrel brewing system, and now uses it to produce and distribute its beer throughout Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska, and my beloved city of San Francisco. The variety of beer has grown also. Not only do they carry the signature Total Domination IPA, but also distribute Tricerahops Double IPA, Believer Double Red, and Otis Oatmeal Stout; not to mention their popular seasonal collection.

The name Ninkasi has meaning behind it too. Ninkasi is the ancient Sumerian goddess of the intoxicating beverage. Her story begins with her birth out of “sparkling fresh water.” She is the goddess made to “satisfy the desire” and “sate the heart.” The founders of Ninkasi Brewery made no mistake in picking this name for their company.

Furthermore, Ninkasi supports a variety of positive community collectives and non-profit organizations not only locally but on a larger scale as well. They have worked to promote various sporting events, teams, musical events, theater, fine arts, as well as festivals and neighborhood parties for example the Whiteaker Block Party that comes every summer.

As you can see, Ninkasi is so much more that just a local brewery, it uses corporate social responsibility to increase consumer perception, as well as give back to the local community. Almost all of the profits from the beer go to non-profit McKenzie River Trust to maintain the water supply that nourishes the brewery as one of the cleanest sources in the world.

The Ninkasi brand has grown to incorporate the local Eugene spirit of togetherness and culture. If you haven’t tried a Ninkasi brew, make your way to your local grocery store and get your hands on one.

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Comedy in Advertising

Everyone agrees, great comedies attract people by the millions; movies, television, print, you name it. Some of the most successful and memorable television commercials of all time are ones that incorporate comedy. When you want your message to be heard and actually remembered, comedy is the way to go. Comedic ads stay ingrained in your memory because you want them too. It starts to create buzz. These kinds of ads attract attention, in all the right ways, which is what word of mouth advertising, is. Word of mouth advertising is the most effective form of advertising. Buzz is hopefully generated after all the work that goes into an ad campaign. This is what creates impressions and draws people to your product.

For me, the most memorable ads on television that I have seen recently have been for Gieco.  Over the past few years, Gieco has really hit hard with the funny TV spots. The Gieco gecko Martin, the caveman ads, and the rhetorical question ads all have one thing in common, they were all funny. The most recent Gieco ad incorporates the same idea.  A man hires popular middle school girls to make him feel inferior to save money on a diet plan. Why do that when you can just save “15 percent or more on car insurance” with Gieco.

Humor really hits home with most audiences when researched properly and executed correctly. People feel happy after watching those spots because they are laughing. You want to make people feel good about your brand.

Archetypes in Branding

Brands are becoming more and more like people.  Like a person, a brand has a name, personality, character, and reputation. Brands need to be honest and trusting. They have to build relationships with their consumers in order to build that trust. Once consumers trust the brand, they will be faithful and buy that brand and that brand only. If that brand makes a mistake and breaks that trust, they will have to work to build it up again; just like people.

As advertising people, we are constantly trying to figure out what people are thinking. It would be nice to know that everyone in the world used the same thought process. In reality, rational people do not exist. People rather; think with their emotions and feelings. Brands need to consider the possible emotional connection they can make with their target markets.

Jung’s Archetypal Theory can apply to brand thinking when considering brands as people. According to this school of thought, images of a collective nature can appear all over the world manifested as different types of “myths.” These images are depicted as people that tell stories about the emotion they displayl. There are 12 “master” archetypes.

  • Hero
  • Magician
  • Outlaw
  • Jester
  • Lover
  • Everyman
  • Caregiver
  • Ruler
  • Creator
  • Innocent
  • Sage
  • Explorer

Brands can fall into these different categories with the stories that they want to express and whom they appeal to.  For example, the brand Johnson and Johnson would be considered a “care giver.” This brand creates a sense of family and care for all parents. Parents want to provide for their families and Johnson and Johnson is a brand that can help them do that. This company has built trust through the quality of the product and corporate social responsibility they offer the community.

This is a great way to consider who your audience is. Brands have to adhere to their constituents, who in most cases are consumers, and they must be actively listening to the environment to achieve this bottom line. Brands are like people. They tend to have trouble making up their minds and this way of thinking is helpful when considering how to address this.

Charlie Robertson

Yesterday, my Creative Strategist Ad Class heard from Mr. Charlie Robertson, a brilliant mind in the world of branding. This Scotland native brought enthusiasm and excitement through visuals and storytelling to our classroom. Needless to say, he captured all of our attention.

Robertson works for an independent brand consultancy firm called Red Spider.  This firm works for brand owners and their agents to fix problems due to branding issues. It was founded in the UK in 1994 and has been thriving ever since.

While working for this brand consultancy firm, Robertson found many predicaments with the level of understanding employees of various advertising agencies had regarding branding.  Because he was now speaking in front of a classroom of 250 advertising students, he took it upon himself to inform us of these problems so that in our futures as advertising people, we can mend the gaps.

As I was sitting there with the utmost attention, I found that one of his statements stuck in my memory above others.  He said, “brand expression only goes wrong in three different places: strategy, idea and execution.” He went on to explain. All of these could go wrong at the same time depending on the objectives you set forth. There needs to be focus and drive in all three.

Brands are like nests. It’s a collection of perceptions in the mind of the consumer. It’s all about the consumer. So much research needs to be done in order to actually reach out to the target market you want and need to survive. Your brand is your reputation and how people view you. Brands offer a promise to customers, shareholders, employees, and suppliers. They create trust. Without this trust, you have nothing but the price of your product. These were the reasons he gave for the importance of branding. The greater the risk you take, the greater the return you receive. I couldn’t agree more.