Beer brand wars

Richmond-based Work Labs recently popped up in my Twitter feed as some of RVA’s ad & design types rallied to defend the local design firm over some beer-related intellectual property shenanigans.

Richmond-based Work Labs recently popped up in my Twitter feed as some of RVA’s advertising & design types rallied to defend the firm over some beer-related intellectual property shenanigans.

Way back in 1998, when craft beer was starting to pick up some serious steam, Work Labs created their own brew in partnership with the now-defunct Main Street Beer Company (which was in the current Martini Kitchen & Bubble Bar space). After Main Street Beer Company went out of business, production of the aptly-named WORK beer ceased.

Back to present day, Colorado-based brewery New Belgium released a new beer named Shift (which is delicious) on April 2nd. Along with the brew came lots and lots of marketing materials. Thing is, a lot of New Belgium’s new Shift branding looks similar to Work Labs’s old WORK branding. Particularly damning, in my mind, is this flowchart-like poster.

Also interesting is this bit on the WORK beer website:

Since showing its campaign in 2005 to a brewery in Colorado, Work Labs has maintained a strong relationship with this brewery. Said brewery also uses the same ad agency as New Belgium Brewery. That other Colorado brewery loved the campaign but was not yet ready to launch a new beer.

Work Labs is, smartly, using this flash of public interest to push both the return of WORK beer and to catch a bit of national publicity. I haven’t seen New Belgium comment publicly, but it’ll be interesting to see how things turn out.

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Ross Catrow

Ross loves his family, Richmond, and beer (in that order). He is the master and commander of the good ship RVANews, and he watches a lot of movies.

2 comments on Beer brand wars

  1. Bryan Kelley on said:

    I saw this statement release earlier today; but I can’t find it specifically on a New Belgium site. Take with a grain of salt. If it is the real and entire statement from NB, it doesn’t address the issue at all.

    http://www.beerpulse.com/2012/04/new-belgium-responds-to-work-labs-copycat-claims/

  2. Jmurph on said:

    Main street beer company was awesome. Cheap locally brewed beer in an awesome location with parking. I think they were 5 years too soon.

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