From the glasses already on the tables to the associates standing by to pour them for you, it was clear from the beginning that MillerCoors knows they’re onto something big with their newest product, Fortune. That’s part of why, more than a month ahead of going on sale, they held a preview event at Hooligans in Chesterton on December 11th.
Standing beside a promotional poster that boldly announced “Your Fortune Awaits,” Kathy Barton, field marketing manager for MillerCoors, introduced Fortune to the assembled representatives of their local distribution partner, Indiana Beverage. With soon-to-be-released commercials playing on the screen behind her, she offered details on where and how they are positioning themselves in the market so that there would be one unified message once the product is released: “Fortune Follows the Bold.”
That’s more than just a slogan; it’s a strategy. “This will be the biggest product launch in company history,” she said of what they call a “spirited golden lager.” Undistilled and boasting 6.9% ABV (alcohol by volume), the beer comes in a distinctive jet-black bottle with a heads-and-tails cap on top and an ace of spades icon—“the international symbol of good luck,” Barton pointed out—on the side.
Foregoing the standard pint glasses, Fortune enjoys the dignity of being served neat in an 8 oz. rocks glass. Once poured, part of the reason for this becomes obvious; the liquid features a rich whiskey color which immediately distinguishes it from lesser brews.
Bob Jacobs, vice president of sales and marketing for Indiana Beverage, spoke briefly about the great partnership Indiana Beverage has with the MillerCoors team before introducing Chris Hodgens, the area’s new general manager for MillerCoors. Taking the microphone, Hodgens said, “Indiana Beverage has a great reputation as a distributor, and with a reputation like that come great expectations as well. We’re expecting a lot from you guys, but we’re also happy to be working with you because we know you’ll do a good job.”
Sample bottles of Fortune were then distributed and MillerCoors representatives observed a pouring ceremony at each of the tables before all glasses were raised in a toast.
Andy Maletta, Indiana Beverage’s vice president of marketing, finished off the formal portion of the evening with a rousing speech of his own. “I’ve been in the business for 30 years,” he said, “and this is the biggest thing we’ve ever seen.”
While everyone enjoyed their drinks, Maletta spoke with me about Indiana Beverage’s relationship with MillerCoors. “We’ve been distributing their products since the company began in 1939. In a lot of ways, our company is built on their brands."
Hodgens added that from the MillerCoors side, Indiana Beverage is the 2nd largest distributor out of 28 in his area. “MillerCoors has a program called MillerCoors Legends,” he added. “The program exists to recognize those who’who've done exceptional work for us, and Bruce Leetz of Indiana Beverage was one of the first to be recognized. They’ve always been a really great business partner.”
Expect good Fortune to come your way in the spring of 2014.