August 26, 1998

Henry Weinhard's and You

An unpaid placement

[weinhard's dark]

On a recent episode of The Rosie O'Donnell Show, the pleasant but wisecracking hostess made one of the most clever self-promotional gestures I've seen in a long time. In a kooky technology conversation with guest Isabella Rossellini, she held up a CD Rom package for a video game (which I will not name, since it's not my product placement), and declared to her enthusiastic audience, "I have not been paid any money by this company, I just think this is really a great game. My kids love it."

Clever Rosie! Well aware that her audience is familiar with the practice of paid placement, she got all the caveats out of the way in order to plug a favorite product. Who knows if her no-payment claim was true? Or if she even likes the product? The important thing is that Rosie managed to set herself up as a trusted celebrity endorser. With this kind of clever management, it's no wonder she's raised the quality bar for daytime talk shows.

[a sip of weinhard's dark]

[wienhard ale]

The unpaid placement may seem like a counterintuitive notion. Why ruin your credibility by shilling for a manufacturer, if you're not being paid to do so? Even the most craven placing efforts of microcelebrities are usually posited with a payoff in mind.

But why should this be? These days, audiences have become so accustomed to skillful placing that a good tie-in may in fact add more credibility to the shill than to the product being pitched. If you're important enough to be an endorser, maybe everybody should be listening to you! A front-page story in yesterday's New York Times reported Federal efforts to save the Bacas Ranch in Santa Fe National Forest, and explained that the area is significant partly because it "has served as a backdrop for Stetson hat advertisements and Marlboro Man billboards." No more explanation needed!

Now I see where I went wrong trying to get Grand Marnier to pay me for running their advertisements. It wasn't just simpleton's modest readership numbers, but the fact that I would be getting as much benefit from GM's stamp of sponsorship approval as they would be getting from their appeal to simpleton's enviably well-heeled demographic.

[wienhard ale]

To inaugurate our occasional unpaid placement section, I'd like to take a product that, as I told the Lou Harris poll, was a favorite of mine long before I started thinking in terms of promotion, let alone payment. The Henry Weinhard's family of beers provides drinkers on the west coast a variety of good quality beers at affordable prices. Smart shoppers can usually find at least one supermarket in town offering Weinhard's at a Special Price. While the price is often not as "special" as I'd like, Weinhard's, like Rolling Rock, gives you a chance to buy beer at a Coor's price, but not have to drink a Coor's-level beer.

Even better, Henry Weinhard's has no official web presence, and the few sites devoted to the product are pretty puny affairs. This gives me a chance to become, by default, the official web page of the Henry Weinhard's corporation.

Of course, none of this would be worth a hill of beans if I didn't like the product. But I do! I even like the packaging. I can say without exaggeration that I have a Weinhard's just about every day!

On hot summer days like today, I may finish up my daily work (like, for example our popular advice for children issue of simpleton), then unwind with some extreme parasurfing, and cap it all off with a smooth, refreshing chug of Weinhard's Ale.

[a sip of weinhard red]

[weinhard red]

But resting on the laurels of one smooth, refreshing, but lite-ish beer wouldn't be Henry's style. On late nights, when I'm cranking out a tough assignment (like my special report on the dumbing down of America), I might go for the rich, full-bodied taste of Weinhard's Dark. Or then there's the morning I finished up the epic Wankers Miniseries, and the only thing keeping me from the tasty zing of a Weinhard's Amber Ale was the prospect of having to put in a full day of work!

And there's more where that came from. Henry Weinhard's also puts out a delicious but frustratingly hard to find Porter, a Hefeweisen, and even some kind of Blueberry thing, which you can have as far as I'm concerned.

But for quality beer at an affordable price, nothing beats a Henry Weinhard's. Sure, they're not paying me to endorse them, but I'd do it even if they were!*

*Henry Weinhard's beverages are best enjoyed in moderation,
so know when to say when!

Endorse simpleton.

Previously in simpleton:

August 25, 1998: Found Objects
Hip Hop Cop in da house!
August 21, 1998: What will we tell the children?
Straight talk about the Lewinski scandal
August 8, 1998: I Know a Good Joke...
Living on borrowed comedy
August 6, 1998: God Damn Liars:
Minor fibs are ruining this country
July 29, 1998: Mary Worth and Nothingness:
Existential comics

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