Pabst Blue Ribbon takes vacations back-in-time with ‘80s motel

    • Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR), which is sold by the Pabst Brewing Company, has partnered with a historic roadside motel to give vacationers an immersive experience in PBR-themed rooms, per information shared with Marketing Dive.
    • Three rooms at the Grand Traverse Motel in Traverse City, Michigan, are each decked out in a unique theme: Dive Bar, Arcade and Rec Room. The initiative was created with the Pabst brand’s new creative agency of record, DNA. Reservations opened on the motel’s website on Aug. 1 and as of press time, the Dive Bar room was sold out.
    • The motel rooms are part of the brand’s new platform “Pabst is the Place.” The brand will also use content generated from the hotel rooms for an integrated campaign airing in 17 key local markets which runs from July to September.

    PBR’s themed hotel rooms, which the brand refers to as “Pabst: The Place,” aims to transport consumers back to the 80s. The rooms are decked out with decor and appliances from the decade in an effort to give guests an experience that is “indifferent to the passing of time.” The rooms, which are available for a limited time, will also host brand partners who will chronicle their stay on social media.

    The hotel activation takes consumers back to the beer’s heyday of the late 70s and early 80s, before a period of upheaval in the 90s that almost spelled doom for the brand. PBR has seen a resurgence in recent years, largely due to its popularity in the hipster subculture. The campaign itself is heavily inspired by one undertaken by the company in the 80s.

    “We were looking for a campaign that embraced the classic qualities of PBR, but would be aspirational for fans both new and old. ‘Pabst is the Place’ represents all the little things that make the brand what it is,” said Rachel Keeton, marketing director for PBR in a press release. “The Motel becomes the Place, evoking that comfortable and timeless feeling of PBR for visitors to experience first-hand.”

    The brand is not only playing into the resurgence of 80s culture, driven in part by shows like “Stranger Things,” but is also taking advantage of consumers’ desire to travel after two years of pandemic-related restrictions. Similar vacation-themed brand activations include Corona’s new island and KFC’s cabin getaway. In 2019, Taco Bell opened “The Bell,” a four-day, Instagram-friendly pop-up hotel in Palm Springs, California. Unlike the lux accommodations offered by Taco Bell and Corona, Pabst’s roadside motel stays true to the brand’s blue-collar image.

    The company has made numerous attempts to ramp up brand awareness in recent years, with undertakings including an adult Easter egg hunt and a 2021 initiative that paid consumers to put advertising in their own homes. Such initiatives strive to keep the brand relevant, especially after a shakeup in 2018 when Pabst claimed MillerCoors (now Molson Coors) was trying to put it out of business. MillerCoors had handled the brewing of nearly all of Pabst’s output for years, and Pabst’s claimed the brewing giant was going to end the partnership. A settlement was reached, and the company still brews a portion of Pabst’s products.


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