Monday, July 25, 2011
So would you think that Devassa might be a good way to describe a beer? "That beer was totally lecherous, wasn't it?" or "You gotta try this one, it's loose and bawdy." Well, it appears that in Brazil at least it's an excellent way to describe a beer, since a relatively new family of beers called Devassa has taken the Brazilian market by storm, thanks in part to an extremely clever marketing campaign that plays on all the aspects of the word devassa.
In 2007 the entrepreneurs who founded Devassa sold the brand to large Brazilian brewery Schincariol, who had the productive capacity and national distribution network to take the brand nationwide. The original Devassa had consisted of three beers, all available only on draft or in long-neck 12 oz bottles. These three beers were called Loura, Ruiva, and Negra (meaning Blonde, Redhead, and Blackhaired) and the names referenced styles of beer - one light lager (the blonde, naturally), one pale ale (the redhead), and one dark ale (the black-haired beauty). Schincariol added one new beer to the family, Bem Loura (really Blonde) a typical Brazilian light lager, available in 12 oz. cans and 600 ml bottles and sold at a lower price point than the three original brews.
Besides the brewing capacity and distribution network one additinal thing that Schincariol brought to Devassa was the financial capability to launch a huge national advertising campaign for Devassa. One that was edgy, youthful and which pushed the leading edge of 21st century marketing techniques. Their first national campaign featured American famous-cuz-she's famous Paris Hilton. In the TV commercial that Ms Hilton did for Devassa she is shown through the windows of a beachfront apartment in Rio, opening a refrigerator, pulling out an ice-cold can of Bem Loura and rubbing it all over her presumably-wanton body, all the while being photographed by a neighbor across the street and ogled by passersby and beachgoers. There was no nudity in the commercial, no faked-orgasm on the part of Paris, but the sight of a frosty Devassa being rubbed on Paris' thighs and in her cleavage was enough to send CONAR, an industry self-regulation body of advertising standards, into a snit-fit. They blocked the ad, forbidding it to be televised. According to a spokeswoman for CONAR this was because the ad "depreciates the female body and demoralizes blonde women." Here's the ad, from YouTube:
The censoring of the Devassa campaign was manna from heaven for Schincariol. The withdrawal of the ad was a topic on national TV news programs, covered in newspapers and magazines, and of course the whole thing went viral on the Internet. As they say, "You can't pay for publicity like that." Schincariol cleverly retooled the campaign (without the continued presence of Paris Hilton) but with beautiful blondes and cans of Devassa alike displaying black bands of censorship across "sensitive areas."
Besides being trendy and hip, is Devassa any good, though? We'll see what Brazilian beer critics say shortly here at Flavors of Brazil.