Breakfast of Champions

By Jeff Forester 05/12/11

The director of New Zealand’s National Addiction Centre called the new brand an  “irresponsible stunt from a health and addiction perspective.”

What’s for breakfast?
Photo via sarcasticbite

The adage goes: avoid hangovers, stay drunk. Every serious drinker knows the hair of the dog brings relief. It was only a matter of time before a marketer smelled opportunity. The New Zealand-based Moa Brewing Company has launched Moa Breakfast, pitching the beer as a refreshing and fruity European-style breakfast lager.

Their tagline: “Not everyone is a morning person.”

Moa founder Josh Scott got the idea for the beer while on vacation, as he and his father were enjoying a leisurely breakfast… with beer. “On occasion, people enjoy champagne at breakfast time, so I thought why not beer?” Why not, indeed? Like champagne, the brew is bottle fermented, and is sealed with a cork, muselet and foil. At 5.5% alcohol, it also packs a serious beer punch. It’s not surprising that the product has drawn immediate fire from critics. Doug Sellman, director of New Zealand’s National Addiction Centre, slammed Moa, calling the marketing an “irresponsible stunt from a health and addiction perspective, because it is normalizing pathological behaviour.” Moa took the guerilla marketing approach, and posted a blurb fashioned from Sellman’s comments on the beer’s web site, under AWARDS: “‘Breathtakingly bold’--National Addiction Center Director (in reference to the marketing...)’” Debate is raging, one side claiming that Moa Breakfast is clearly being marketed to alcoholics, while others in the lifestyle blogosphere have noted that Bloody Marys, Irish Coffees and Mimosas have long been standard brunch libations. Why not beer?

To be sure, it hardly takes marketing to motivate an alcoholic to drink in the mornings. Nothing like getting an early start on the day. And at roughly 27 U.S. dollars for a four pack, Moa Breakfast pretty well excludes the low-bottom crew. But for those who have yet to develop the addiction, Moa’s marketing can be viewed as a way of lowering the bar on responsible drinking. Poor taste in marketing has become Moa’s brand. What can you expect from a company whose banner slogan is, “Fifty years ago, before there were lesbians, this is what beer tasted like.”

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Jeff Forester is a writer in Minnesota. His book, Forest for the Trees: How Humans Shaped the North Woods, an ecological history of his state's famed Boundary Waters, came out in paperback in 2009. Jeff is the Executive Director of MN Lakes and Rivers Advocates MLR and you can follow him on Twitter.