Founding Fathers Brew For A Cause

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A new brew is on the shelves in Minnesota and North Dakota and headed to the isles of another dozen or so states early next year. The beer brand is Founding Fathers, and like those guys, it’s patriotic beyond the norm.

But will its pedigree cause conflict with another similarly-named beer?[more]

The brand, dreamed up by a Minneapolis entrepreneur, donates a portion of its profits to organizations that support military families.

Partnering with nearby La Crosse, Wisconsin’s City Brewing Company, Founding Fathers will produce a lager, a premium, and a light beer under the motto “Keeping America Strong!” The brand states: “We believe the values and ideas that originated with our Founding Fathers are the principles that need to be preserved to keep America Strong.”

“Cause marketing” is a rising player in brand messaging, as consumers awash in marketing messages — and unlimited product choice — look for a way to feel better about buying that thing they want, but don’t necessarily need. Recent studies show that there is a great deal of nuance in how men and women respond to cause marketing.

In some cases, cause marketing is the broccoli inside the three-cheese stuffed pizza that allows eaters to think of it as “healthy,” while at other times the cause is sincere. Founding Fathers beer appears to be in the latter category as a full 50 percent of all of its profits go to military family support.

Of course, the branded beer business has turned to the founding fathers before. A few years ago, Bud Light enlisted the be-wigged fathers for a little fun.

And in the age of the tea party, other businesses have heavily mined this patriotic vein, from the recent Dodge Challenger muscle car commercial starring George Washington to right wing talk radio entertainer Rush Limbaugh’s “Two if By Tea.

On beer brand that may take issue with the new socially-conscious brand is Founders. The Grand Rapids, Michigan brewery is a critically-acclaimed operation that claims it was “the second fastest growing brewery in the U.S. in 2009,” There is no reason to believe Founders’ name is derived from the founding fathers, but the potential for confusion is there nonetheless.

Update: Dave Engbers, Founder’s vice president of marketing, responds:

“With the craft beer industry growing as such a remarkable rate it’s hard not to cause a little confusion along the way.   The Founding Father’s brand has a different name than any of our products (ie: Dirty Bastard, Double Trouble, Breakfast Stout…) and obviously a completely different look, tone and feel that I am confident that our consumers shouldn’t be confused.”

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