In Beer Wars, Miller Gets Entrepreneurial On Bud

If you spend any time reading about or studying management, entrepreneurship, or business strategy, you will likely come across the term ‘corporate entrepreneurship.’ While I generally dismiss the term and don’t read much about it, today’s WSJ has an interesting piece on the perpetual beer wars between Budweiser and Miller (think India v. Pakistan) in which writer David Kesmodel describes Miller’s hiring of an Ad Age reporter to run a blog called Brew Blog.

James Arndorfer, the aforementioned reporter, has scooped a number of stories on Budweiser much to the chagrin of Bud execs, marketers, and pr folks. Arndorfer appears to be acting like many entrepreneurs/bloggers — combing public records, pumping his industry network, and relentlessly sniping at the largest player in an industry (Bud controls almost 50% of the market). The headline in the image above is one such example.

Bloggers/entrepreneurs have been doing this for years in order to get around large/established media players in various sectors. Miller is doing the same thing; from the piece:

The corporate marketing battlefield has long been strewn with pithy digs in ads and selective news leaks about others’ business woes. But it’s unusual for a company to go to the trouble of creating its own media arm to grind out news on the competition. While the site lets Miller tweak its famously tight-lipped rival, it also gives the company a platform to take a first crack at spinning industry news.

“They are trying to aggressively go around the gatekeepers” in newsrooms and the trade press, says Stephen Quigley, an associate professor of public relations at Boston University. “It’s something you couldn’t do five years ago,” before the proliferation of blogs.

While the article gives Brew Blog high marks for is reporting and innovative approach to the beer wars. One wonders whether this efforts will be worth it in the end. Can the returns make any difference in the makeup of the industry and Miller’s bottom line? More from the piece:

The site reaches mostly beer-industry professionals, Mr. Arndorfer says. It received about 24,000 visits in the month ending April 10 — representing more than 12,000 individual visitors — according to Miller’s statistics. Users on Miller’s computer network accounted for the most visits among corporations, with 1,675. Running second: Anheuser, with 1,540 visits.

later,

Not so crazy about the blog is Mr. Schuhmacher, the editor and publisher of Beer Business Daily. Mr. Schuhmacher, who charges $440 a year for his publication, declines to say how many subscribers he has. “I tell Miller you’re subsidizing a free publication, and it hurts the trade press,” he says. “But they don’t care.”

Mr. Schuhmacher became angry when Miller bought ads to run alongside Google searches for the keywords “Harry Schuhmacher” and “Beer Business Daily” to drive visitors to Brew Blog. The brewer took the ads down after he complained.

Mr. Schuhmacher adds that he writes fewer positive pieces about Miller than he once did because he knows Brew Blog will always publish the same stories. On a recent evening, a Miller spokesman suggested he write about one of its newer brews, a lemonade-flavored wheat beer called Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy.

“I said, ‘You know what, give it to Brew Blog,'” Mr. Schuhmacher says.

So they’ve angered the leading industry trade pub and they reach an audience of execs at their company and their target? While this would be a great start for an individual or a group of individuals trying to get into industry media and makes for an entertaining story, it does little to change my opinion on the value corporate entrepreneurship.

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