Founded in 1878 and based in Rochester, NY, Genesee Brewing
Company is one of the largest and oldest continually operating
breweries in the United States.
In early 2017, DS began working with Genesee (part of North American Breweries) to help promote its classic beer brands. Since the start of our partnership, DS has coordinated media relations and marketing efforts for several new-beer press releases, a promotional campaign, and various brand and news announcements.
In the spring of 2017, Genesee approached us for content marketing ideas to support its GeneSEE America summer campaign for its three flagship brands: Genesee, Genesee Light and Genesse Cream Ale.
Given the brewery’s brand history, the idea needed to embody summer, Americana and an authentic pride in the upstate NY region.
We recommended a series of hosted videos that would be one part travelogue, one part Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
With the video series, we captured a true road adventure and off-the-cuff conversations with locals, and made sure to incorporate plenty of gorgeous scenery from the region.
Using a “backpack journalism” approach, the series traveled to three New York destinations—Buffalo, Canandaigua and Ithaca. In each episode, the host meets up with the owner of a local, iconic establishment to discuss the bar’s history with the Genesee brand.
At the end of each episode, the host signs off by inviting viewers to share how they “GeneSEE America.”
Toast the tanks
Later that year, Genesee told us about its substantial plans to upgrade its 140-year-old brewery. 12 new, huge (60′ x 20′) fermentation tanks were about to travel down the Erie Canal to Rochester from Albany (after traversing oceans and up the Hudson River).
The Genesee and Dixon Schwabl teams recognized the serious PR value in what was at first regarded—understandably—as purely a logistical feat. And soon we were carefully coordinating every phase of Toast the Tanks, a monthlong, nearly 24-hours-a-day public relations campaign.
The multi-tactic campaign included:
Brandingthe tanks with Genesee signage
Pre-publicityabout the pending arrival of the tanks in scores of towns along hundreds of miles of the canal
day-of Publicityas the tanks arrived in each town
Coordinationof a media event as the tanks were unloaded at the brewery in Rochester
The campaign secured more than 150 million branded media impressions for the Genesee brand. While establishing the brand’s contemporary relevance, Toast the Tanks helped communicate Genesee’s 139-year heritage across a huge portion of its distribution territory. The PR program generated more than 500 news stories in local, regional and national media, including major outlets like The New York Times, Westwood One Radio Network and USA Today.
The publicity led to a massive groundswell of public support for the tanks. Traffic on Genesee’s social media outlets surged—spurred in part by the hashtag #ToastTheTanks. Various social media channels were deluged by requests from the public wanting to know where the tanks were and when they’d be arriving in each town.
Thousands of people gathered at dozens of locations to watch the massive tanks pass by. One conservative estimate gauged that at least 10,000 people gathered at bridges, locks and canal paths to catch a glimpse of the tanks.
In fact, at one location, so many people had gathered to see the tanks that a couple of spectators jockeying for position in their cars experienced a minor fender-bender. Despite our pleas for everyone to practice responsible beer tank viewing.