Lately I have been on a bit of a beer drinking break as I recover from an extended seasonal beer blitz. During this hiatus I have been taking some time to delve into beer history, specifically beer advertising. As craft beer continues to grow and expand the move into advertisements seems inevitable so I thought it might be fun to explore one of the arguably most successful beer ad campaigns ever.
Let me introduce Sascha better known as the Hamm’s Beer Bear.
First a little background on the Brewery
Hamm’s brewery was established in 1865 in St. Paul Minnesota by Theodore Hamm, a German immigrant, who inherited the Excelsior Brewery from his friend and business associate. Thanks to the pure water from the brewery’s wells and its utilization of the native sandstone, the operation grew quickly. By 1910 the brewery was shipping 700,000 barrels yearly. After just over one hundred years through the trials of prohibition, decreasing national sales and competition between big breweries, 1968 marked the first of many ownership changes for Hamm’s when the company was acquired by Heublein, which sold it to Olympia Brewing Company. Eventually Hamm’s became the property of MillerCoors, the current owner and brewer of the Hamm’s Brand.
Truly great ad campaigns manage to marry and iconic image with a signature jingle. Oh yes, the jingle that infectious little tune that sticks in your head whether you want it to or not. For Hamm’s that jingle was derived from the song “From the Land of Sky-Blue Water”. The jingle was first used on radio and later on television. Here is a portion of the lyrics (imagine tom-toms echoing over the water):
From the Land of Sky Blue Waters,
From the land of pines’ lofty balsams,
Comes the beer refreshing,
Hamm’s the beer refreshing.
While the jingle was catchy and enforced the direction of the ad campaign it was Sascha the Hamm’s Beer bear that was to become the real star. Hamm’s ad campaign sought to emphasize the cleanliness and naturalist qualities of Hamm’s beer owing to its clear water and production in pristine Minnesota. The first television commercial depicted animated beavers beating their tails to the tom-tom beat of the jingle, as well as live action shots of the forests and lakes of the “enchanted Northland” aka Minnesota. The second commercial, produced in 1952, introduced a clumsy dancing black-and-white cartoon bear, which proved so popular it was used for the next three decades.
Last (and least) the Beer
Well, there is not a whole lot to say about Hamm’s beer. As a community of craft beer enthusiasts it is very unlikely you will want to go out of your way to seek out any of the Hamm’s line-up but just in case you are trapped in an isolated community that time forgot and there are only three options staring back at you from the dusty liquor store shelf here is what rate beer thinks:
Hamm’s America’s Classic Premium Beer has a score of 2.
Hamm’s Golden Draft has a score of 10.
Hamm’s Special light has a score of 10.
While Hamm’s beer may not have stood the test of time Sascha sure did. The beer bear is the subject of books, adorns countless types of brewiana, has online devotees, and lives on through the miracle of You Tube.
*Thanks to wikipedia and numerous online resources that shared their love of the bear and the brewery.