Dan Fox
The views expressed in db Reader do not represent the views of the drinks business.

Personal reflection on a legend: Bill Coors turns 100 years old

27th October, 2016 by Dan Fox

William K. Coors – “Uncle Bill” to many, even those not in the Coors family – turned 100 years old on 11 August. When the term “beer baron” was coined, I’m pretty sure Bill Coors’ image appeared on the heads side of that coin.

screen-shot-2016-08-11-at-10-38-28-am_orig

Circa 1959 – Bill Coors shows off one of the first aluminium beverage cans

It could be reasonably argued that Bill Coors was personally responsible for the most significant bit of innovation to occur in beer marketing over a century, namely the aluminium beverage can. To say it transformed the industry is no exaggeration. And it’s still going on as craft brewers routinely trumpet their moves into that package. Though the original idea was not his, it was Bill Coors who, by force of will, and against then conventional wisdom, transformed the idea into reality.

(You can read the whole story here.)

Even into times when “gotcha” reporting and a media obsessed with sound bites could work to his detriment, Bill could always be counted on to speak his mind. Direct and unvarnished, even the twinkle in his eye was real. At Coors’ annual distributor conventions, Bill’s unscripted–and to the chagrin of some more cautious brewery executives—un-rehearsed remarks were always a highlight. The audience was enthralled. Everyone knew they were in the presence of a true legend, a great man.

Because he was an engineer by professional training, and by avocation, a real student of the science surrounding brewing, Bill could be always counted on to tell you something you didn’t know. I remember him regaling the distributors with how silly he thought strident alcohol abstainers were being. He told how the human body naturally produces a small amount of alcohol as a digestive by-product, no matter what was consumed.

Bill concluded: “So even teetotalers are getting their little nip!”

The audience erupted in thunderous applause and side-splitting laughter.

You can get a feel for the man, his character, some of his accomplishments… and even his always-ready sense of humor in this 20 year-old video…

Two legends and their advertising

Over my three-decades-long career in advertising, I had the singular privilege of being able to see two true business giants at work. Bill Coors was one. Charlie Lubin, the founder and creator of the Sara Lee brand, was the other. Both were clients I served at Foote, Cone & Belding.

It says something that neither of these two giants held advertising in very high regard. But that wasn’t really a bad thing. See, both men absolutely venerated the quality and distinctiveness of the products they brought to market. Cutting corners on quality was a suggestion hired-help managers made at great peril. I saw Charlie Lubin lambast such people to tears. The risk of making such a suggestion to Bill Coors could easily have involved physical violence.

This devotion to product made the job of the advertising people easier. Selling beer brewed with pure Rocky Mountain spring water, or pound cakes made with all butter, focused the advertising people, and more important, the advertising itself. Lesser competitors–and lesser men–worshiped advertising that foisted undifferentiated brands on gullible consumers. Bill and Charlie, a brewer and a baker, genuflected before the altar of distinctive quality. While neither man would ever call himself one, both men were the very best of marketers. And in my view, advertising geniuses.

Charlie left us years ago. I’m glad Bill’s still here to savor hitting triple digits. We need our legends. And their marketing lessons.

Happy birthday, Bill Coors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters

Job vacancies

Administrative Assistant

Swig Wines Ltd
Chiswick, London, UK

HR Manager

Amathus Drinks PLC
London, UK

Beer Development Specialist

Matthew Clark
London, UK

Senior Sales Manager

Haynes Hanson & Clark
Gloucestershire, GB

Customer Services Administrator

Speciality Drinks Ltd
London, UK

National Business Development Manager

Speciality Drinks Group
London, UK

Inventory Analyst

Bibendum PLB
London, UK

Events Executive - Atom Supplies

ATOM Supplies Limited
London, UK

Off-Trade Sales Account Executive

Domaine Direct
Nationwide, working from a combination of home & London office.

Sales Executive/Brand Ambassador

Glenfarclas
Ballindalloch, Speyside, UK

Client Manager

Noble Rot
Wandsworth, London, GB

Spirits Investment Director

Stilnovisti
London, UK

Junior Brand Manager

Enotria Winecellars
Park Royal, London, UK

Content & Digital Assistant

ABVGlobal
London, UK

Sales Manager

Cellar Trends
London, UK

Champagne Masters 2017

Deadline : 7th July 2017

The Global Sparkling Masters 2017

Deadline : 10th July 2017

The Global Malbec Masters 2017

Deadline : 10th July 2017

The Global Syrah Masters 2017

Deadline : 18th July 2017

Click to view more

The Drinks Business Awards 2017

Now in its 15th year, the db awards have become the most authoritative, internationally respected badge of achievement in the alcoholic drinks industry.

The Asian Cabernet Sauvignon Masters 2017

the drinks business Hong Kong announces its first year of The Asian Cabernet Sauvignon Masters.

Rioja Masters 2016

Now in its fifth year, the competition will recognise and reward the finest Riojas on the world stage.

Fortified Masters 2016

Now in its third year, The Fortified Masters will reward the best fortified wines on offer.

Click to view more