09 October 2012

Pretenders to the Throne

Jägermeister is the undisputed king of metal booze. It's made from 56 herbs and spices, all of which are licorice.

Their current ad campaign features Kerry King of Slayer fame who, in spite of being kind of an ass, is quite metal. 

They also feature vignettes of tough men doing assorted metal things like tattooing or rodeo-clowning.

Wait I just found the full set of profiles:
  • Mike Lingerfelt: NASCAR Pit Crew Champion
  • Freddie Roach: Boxing Trainer
  • Keyshawn Johnson: All-Pro Wide Receiver
  • Kerry King: Guitarist [come on though, it's fuckin' Slayer]
  • Nathan Fletcher: Big Wave Surfer
  • Rob Smets: Rodeo Bullfighter [not a rodeo clown, in spite of his clown face paint]
  • Mister Cartoon: Artist (tattoos)
Are these all metal? I dunno, maybe..

The point is, Jägermeister (getting very tired of typing that umlaut) presents itself as the baddest-assed, most metal liquor available. Who hasn't seen a band on the Jägermeister side stage? Who hasn't stopped by the Jägermeister tent at a metal festival to try and get some free shit?

No one. No one has not done these things because Jägermeister ("Jäger", if you're fucking awesome) positions itself at the forefront of these things. 

But must it be Jägermeister forever? Evaluated objectively, it's kind of medicinal and great if you like sweet black licorice. If you take away the licorice all you have is an umlaut and a fraktur logo. Plus there's the mythical ghost-chamois that the inventor hallucinated or... whatever. And that's kind of metal. We can do better, though.


Let's explore an alternate universe; one where things evolved much the same as our own with the chief exception that a different Germanic booze positioned itself at the forefront of getting people drunk while listening to Slayer.



Why is it a potential candidate? Because it's got a man fighting a bear over a beehive on the label, that's why.


What happens next? Does the bear get punched with bear trap boxing gloves?

Does the man get his scalp clawed off and the bear eats his brains? Is honey involved?

At any rate, the very label tells a story worthy of any ambient black metal or progressive/stoner rock band. Plus it tastes good, very sweet. Easy to drink a lot of and good warm or cold. I personally think Bärenjäger deserves the top spot, but it will forever be the Pepsi to Jägermeister's Coke. Or possibly it's the RC Cola, it's hard to say.


"The Spirit of Austria"

Let's be clear; the 80 is not the proof, it's the percentage alcohol. So STROH 80 weighs in at 160 proof, or roughly twice that of your standard anything else. Exceptions are made for Bacardi 151, Everclear and Wild Turkey. And once upon a time, Jack. Until they made it weaker to appeal to a larger consumer base.

Anyway, I'll let the website tell you a little bit about them:
"Whether for cooking, baking or as warmth spending drink it is always the right season for the unmistakable STROH aroma."
So STROH corporate (a.k.a. The Man) wants you to bake with it. That means they're sort of selling giant bottles of something like vanilla extract. I'm more interested in it for its ability to make warmth spending drink.

STROH is not very metal looking and there's nothing metal about cooking or baking, but warmth spending drink is pretty metal and Austria is metal enough. So I'd say it's a strong contender - maybe more so if they strengthen their brand a bit. An umlaut would not be gramatically correct but that didn't stop Motley Crue from seeing success. I'm just saying, it can't hurt. If they played their cards right we'd all be familiar with the unmistakable STROH aroma.


These guys are close but they'll never make it all the way.

Rumple Minze

I was going to count this out as being too fairy-tale-ish and then I found this picture:


So, points go to Rumple Minze. Still I think this proves that at one point they tried too hard; trying too hard to be metal is not metal. Note the bear and the armor-clad warrior maiden. Rumple Minze might be best drank ironically while listening to Re-Thrash or whatever 3 Inches of Blood is.


I'm lumping these two together because they're pretty much the same. They're Bavarian "medicinal" liquers and they both taste like it. Imagine a less-sweet Jägermeister that's awful.

Bärwurz has a bear on the label but... it's not very metal.

It's not very metal at all. That bear doesn't look very mean; it's just kind of hanging out. Still though, we've seen that associating a bear with your brand is a step in the right direction so they get points for trying.


Blutwurz. Let's say it in English:


I would drink something called bloodroot, and then I'd listen to Kreator or some other old German thrash and go safety pin some band logos to my leather jacket. Then I'd keep drinking until I blacked out.

Hang on though. They put a bird on it? That's not... very metal at all. They put two birds on it. I objectively enjoy the label but they're not going to be sponsoring any second stages at any festivals any time soon. Blutwurz also needs some help before they can hope to usurp Jägermeister.

Lessons Learned

As with many things, it's important to get there first. We've seen that it's not about the number of umlauts, the taste or strength of the booze. And it's not enough to just be German! It's all about branding. Jäger as it, they're owning it and I don't think they have anything to worry about any time soon. 

They would do well to put a bear on their label though. Clearly it can only help.

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