16 September 2011

Okay, NOW the Baltimore Beer Week schedule ramps up.......

The pressure is now on for Baltimore Beer Week's sponsors to add events to the official schedule, both on the website and for the upcoming guide booklets and City Paper schedule inserts.  The official tally now stands at  214 267 events, and we are well aware of several more that haven't made it onto the website list yet.

Start perusing, and start arranging your schedules accordingly.  (The home page gives you the seven "featured events;" select individual dates to see what's happening on those days.)


JohnM. said...

Looking over the schedule got me to thinking, as well as raising in my mind a couple of questions.

I know this past year there was considerable unhappiness about the amount of money organizers were charging parcipants to hold Philly beer week events (to the point that a number of places dropped out). I was wondering if organizers here were doing anything similar, or if they were even charging any sort of fee at all. My curiousity was piqued when I started reading over some of the 214 "events."

On day one (10/6), I see that both Mahaffey's and the Wharf Rat are having a Baltmore Beer Week event that looks remarkably similar to what they typically do on any given thursday (the 3 mugs for $5 or $6 happy hour promotion). If they want to call that a beer week event that's their perogative of course, though I have to wonder if they would have done so if they were charged for the privilege.

That kind of brings me to my next question. Do you get the impression that some bars are simply using Baltimore Beer Week as free advertisement to promote what is essentially just their normal business practices? For that matter, do you get the impression that organizers are simply using local beer bar business practices to pump up the the event numbers? Obviously, it certainly makes BBW appear all the more impressive the more events they can list, so maybe this is simply a matter of one hand washing the other (free advertisement for local beer bars; good PR for the BBW organizers).

Anyhow, I was just wondering if you had any thoughts on the topic, and whether you know if there is a fee charged to BBW participants who want to hold a BBW event.

Alexander D. Mitchell IV said...

Long story mercifully short:

The published schedules reflect events held by sponsors, or at the outside held at a non-sponsoring place of the sponsor's choosing. If, say, Max's chooses to promote a Mikkeller beer event, it'll be listed as a Max's event but not a Mikkeller event unless Mikkeller also becomes a sponsor. Further, for example, Flying Dog (a sponsor) can hold a tasting at a bar or store that isn't a sponsor, but it'll be listed as a FD event and the venue's name will be "buried" somewhat.

BBW has an exemption for registered non-profits, which I adamantly promoted early on in BBW's initial planning: if, say, the Baltimore Museum of Industry, the Pratt Library, a folk-music or poetry society, or the Maryland Zoo wants to do a beer event, they can get free publicity. Thus, Charmingly Charitable Chilibrew and a few other such events (I think the Creative Alliance falls under this too). Ditto the homebrew clubs.

So, to answer your last question: Yes, the Wharf Rat (as an example) is paying for the privilege of promoting its normal happy hour deal and simply to maintain its status as a Baltimore beer destination. They are certainly free to add more events--last year, for example, the weekly Tuesday Night Trivia there was beer-themed for BBW. It's up to the sponsors themselves to come up with stuff, and I can say that there are/were a few places that were paying up and then saying "well, now what do I do?" The proper answer: "Whatever you think works!"

Supposing Budweiser wants to piggy-back onto BBW? In theory, there's little BBW can do, although there ARE a couple registered trademarks, service marks, etc. in play. Long story short, save for the City Paper selling advertising in the inserts (which is part of the "media partnership" there and covers costs for both them and BBW), it just hasn't been an issue, and probably won't be--as sleazy as some aspects of "big beer" marketing may be, they're definitely not stupid.

JohnM. said...

Excellent information Alex. I'm glad I asked.

Soooo.... if I understand your third paragraph. BBW sponsors pay a flat fee, and once they do that they can promote any event that takes place at their venue, even if it's a pre-existing one (as long as it takes place during BBW).

Thanks! The light bulb has now come on. Cheers!

Alexander D. Mitchell IV said...

Not a FLAT fee--there are different levels for sponsorship, mind you, and they come with certain privileges accordingly. The total money involved is deep in the five figures, and virtually all of it is spent on advertising, promotions, expenses (website, legal, etc.), events (Opening Tap), etc. Disclaimer: They even paid me a few dollars last year for the thousands of photos I took for them, after the fact and to my surprise. (Well, that and a free beer once or twice.)

But, yes, you pony up as a sponsor, and if you want to do ten events a day for ten days (hello, Max's Taphouse!), that's perfectly within your right, as long as all the events are distinctly different and beer-related. And if you do nothing, that's your right, too.