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RuNT Arrives in Austin with Alcohol Content (Recap)

Written By Molly Hitchings | Apr 11, 2017

One of the best things about having parties after SXSW is leftover alcohol. Our gracious hosts, Preacher, brought in the extra bottles of Knob Creek and Tito’s, while Hops & Grain provided the craft beer for our first successful RuNT event in Austin!

Not only did we have tasty liquor, we had amazing speakers on hand including: Butler Bros Director of Narrative Jeremy Spencer, R/GA Strategy Lead Dave Burg, Hops & Grain Founder Josh Hare, McGarrah Jessee Design Lead Aimee Roberge, and Preacher Chief Creative Officer Rob Baird.

Thanks to them, we got to learn how advertising in the spirit industry is created, maintained, and successful.

Jeremy Spencer – Butler Bros

Jeremy covered a lot of fantastic material in his presentation. As Butler Bros’ Director of Narrative, he told us about his story-building process, and how he collaborates with the design team to craft meaningful messaging. Butler Bros is responsible for some amazing work, including their designs for Real Ale Brewing, Tequila 512, and Maui Brewing Co.

He also spoke about doing branding work for craft breweries, and what a special process it is. “It’s like when you give the franchise over to the fan boy,” he said. “They’ll take care of it more than the owner did.” When the team are true fans of the product, he said, they tend to oversee product development from a more passionate perspective.

One of the most rewarding aspects of branding for this clientele is the deep partnerships established and maintained throughout the process. Whether it’s the owners of Real Ale, or a Polynesian tattoo artist they worked with for Maui Brew Co, Butler Bros works alongside their clients instead of just for them. And as Jeremy pointed out, “Why else would you work on an alcohol brand if you’re not going to drink a lot?”

Dave Burg – R/GA

Instead of group strategy lead, Dave’s title at R/GA should be “stand up comedian.” Dave had the room belly-laughing for the entirety of his presentation that compared beer advertising to–well–everything else. “I’ve been involved in a lot of fun stuff. I’ve never felt like I was working, and that’s the best part,” he explained.

Dave provided examples of multiple advertising categories that are largely homogeneous, such as gyms and cars. Every ad in these categories had the same look, feel, and color scheme. Then he presented different beer advertisements on the market, and each one was unique–with different themes, colors, and personality.

And even though Dave sent us the wrong presentation deck to use (which he mentioned multiple times throughout his speech), he flawlessly explained the beauty to be found in the advertising world, and how it’s relevant to our day-to-day lives.

Josh Hare – Hops & Grain

Having a brewer in the speaker mix added a valuable perspective. Josh did explain his partnership with the outside designer who develops Hops & Grain’s branding, but mostly he told us about the stories and history behind the company, the beers, and why they are as successful as they are. “It’s not the product where people get attached,” he said, “it’s the story.” Josh has become truly captivated in “what brings people back,” he explained.

“I’m not a graphic designer, I’m a liquid designer.”

Something I love about the Hops & Grain brand is that it’s hard to find the company’s name on their beer cans. It’s not the first thing you see, but the beers are still easy to recognize. As Josh said, “it’s the colors, it’s simple branding.”

Hops & Grain also draws inspiration from their location at 507 Calles Street in East Austin. Josh truly believes in the East Austin community and enunciated how it’s something his brewery will continue to invest in. Stop by their tasting room and check out their awesome beers!

Aimee Roberge – McGarrah Jessee

Shiner beer is truly a Texas staple. Having Aimee, the branding director and design lead at McGarrah Jessee, expand on the brand and marketing history of the beer, was fascinating to listen to. Aimee told us that from the beginning they “wanted to find the soul of Shiner. The brewery, the town, the people.” In addition to the quick wit branding of the McJ team, they found a beautiful way to integrate the company’s history and soul into their marketing style.

Aimee explained that “there are no brand guidelines when designing for Shiner. It’s more of a feeling, or a story.” She showed us a compilation of a few Shiner video clips that had everyone laughing along and enjoying the branding stories.

Rob Baird – Preacher

Last up we had our gracious host, Preacher Chief Creative Officer Rob Baird. Rob presented us with a beautiful presentation on their recent work for Knob Creek.

The story was fantastic. Instead of setting up a photo shoot, they took five guys with different professions on a weekend camping trip and let them be themselves with a bottle of Knob Creek. Sounds dangerous, but the authenticity of the photos was amazing. Whether they were sitting around a campfire, playing cards, or fly fishing, their mood was less about product placement and more about the experience that the drink can accompany. “It feels like we didn’t do advertising,” Rob said. “We just went with our guts. Went fly fishing and day drinking.”

As Rob said, “Booze is a lifestyle; it’s a lifestyle brand.” Gaining insight from our talented speakers with a beer in hand made for a hugely successful first RuNT event in Austin.

You can check out more photos from RuNT. The Brewing of a Brand on Facebook, and keep an eye out for future gatherings on our events page.

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