The Swingin’ Johnsons

This tag is associated with 3 posts

Can mass collaboration save our beloved Pabst Blue Ribbon?

At the beginning of November, news sources reported that Pabst (maker of Pabst Blue Ribbon, the official beer of our little honky-tonk band) was up for sale. Apparently, Pabst is owned by a non-profit foundation and the IRS has been trying to get the foundation to sell it for years.

Problem is, last time Pabst was on the market in 2005 there were no buyers, and the IRS gave them a reprieve until 2010 before they had to try again.

The selling price? $300 million. Which doesn’t sound too bad until you hear that Pabst doesn’t even have any breweries– the last one closed in 2001. They are now essentially a marketing vehicle for a bunch of beer brands, including PBR, but also Old Milwaukee, Schlitz, Stroh’s and about 25-30 others (check out the full list here).

Well now two enterprising advertising agencies have banded together to see if they can create a mass collaboration movement to buy Pabst. They’ve created a website called Buy A Beer Company where you can actually pitch in to purchase a piece of Pabst for yourself. Once they get to $300 million in crowd-sourced funds, they make a formal offer to buy the company.

Sound like a marketing stunt? It is… but it has only been going on for two weeks, and they have already raised almost $10 million!

That’s pretty impressive for a stunt.

Who knows were this will lead? Perhaps a rival crowd-sourced movement will appear and make an aggressive counter-offer? Or maybe some rich investor will swoop in and buy Pabst, the two ad agencies, and their list of donors all at one time. One way or another, it’ll be interesting to watch what happens next. If you want to stay tuned in, you can follow the Buy a Beer Company Twitter feed here.

Do you have 10,000 hours in yet? The 21st century is waiting…


Baby Mozart sez I got my 10,000 hours of practice in before I was five years old, suckers!

Finally got around to reading Malcolm Gladwell’s new book Outliers. I’m late to the game on this one, so I’ll skip the full review and instead point to some good summaries about the book here, here, and here. I have other fun stuff I want to cover today.

For me, this book was his best yet. Gladwell’s gift is he is an amazing storyteller, and in this book he once again takes semi-boring academic research and makes it deeply relevant and interesting by crafting a beautiful story around it.

Here’s a short synopsis of Outliers. I decided to write it in the form of a limerick. I have no idea why.

Some folks become world-class Outliers,

Achieving success we can’t help but admire,

But smarts and ambition,

Aren’t the only pre-conditions,

Great timing and practice are required.

Basically, Gladwell is saying you can be the smartest guy on Earth and achieve nothing worth mentioning. But incredible, world-class success (think Bill Gates, Mozart, the Beatles) is a mashup of being born at the right time in the right place to the right people with the right genetic makeup while having the right things occur to you at exactly the right times in your life.

Oh, and you need to get in 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at your craft.

This last concept really got to me. The idea that in order to become an expert in your field, you need to put in 10,000 hours of practice has been covered extensively. In fact there are two other books out describing the research behind this assertion, The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle and Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin.

Hearing the Bill Gates and Steve Jobs stories of perfect timing and early practice in Gladwell’s book started me thinking about a few things.

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The Swingin’ Johnsons: Poor branding? Probably.

A good friend told me a few weeks ago that I should write more about music here, since music is such an important part of my life. So I thought I’d give it a go.

I play bass in a band called The Swingin’ Johnsons. Yes, that’s right.

Occasionally, we call ourselves a Lyndon Johnson tribute band, when we need to water down the story, and most of our show posters have pictures of Lyndon Johnson on them. I don’t know exactly how we are paying “tribute” to Lyndon Johnson by what we do, but there it is.

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Hey, I Wrote a Book!

The Ad-Free Brand: Secrets to Building Successful Brands in a Digital World

Available now in print and electronic versions.

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