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Hire me, White Claw
The hard seltzer juggernaut's lead marketer is gone. Here's my application to replace him.
Last month, word came that marketer Sanjiv Gajiwala would be departing Mark Anthony Brands. This sentence means nothing to people who do not cover or work in the beverage industry for a living, but it’s a major development for those who do.
See, Mark Anthony Brands is the low-profile Canadian firm that makes White Claw Hard Seltzer, the high-profile hard seltzer brand beloved by pretty much everyone ages 15 to 55 with a functioning gullet. White Claw is a runaway success story that has disrupted everything from the shopping habits of America’s frat bros and wine moms, to the once-promising active-lifestyle beer sub-category, to the gender norms of American paramilitary types.
There’s also… uh, whatever this is:
And the money! In its stunning ascent to hard-seltzer supremacy, White Claw has raked in a truly breathtaking amount of dough. Sales quadrupled in 2019, making a multibillionaire out of Mark Anthony Brands’ head honcho (a colorful Canadian hustler who used to sell wine out of his car.) This year, with American drinkers’ coronavirus-induced thirst raging, the malt-beverage brand has been posting absurd numbers. Per BrewBound:
Year-to-date through mid-June, dollar sales of the White Claw brand family are up 315.5%, to $800.1 million, in off-premise multi-outlet grocery and convenience stores tracked by market research firm IRI. Over the past 52 weeks, White Claw dollar sales have increased 325.5%, to $1.4 billion, and the White Claw brand family is the No. 7 best-selling brand family in the beer category.
Sweet bubbly booze water, that’s a lot of fucking money! And Sanjiv Gajiwala was the man with the plan who made it so, helming White Claw’s marketing efforts from August 2016 through July 2020.
Now that he’s disembarked the Good Ship Seltzer, Mark Anthony Brands’ president is searching for Gajiwala’s successor, a malt-beverage messenger who can meet the moment. That’s where I come in.
Having been recently laid off by the local newspaper, your Fingers editor is seeking new opportunities. Sure, I could apply to be Bud Light Seltzer’s new Chief Gen Z Panderer, as no fewer than several Friends of Fingers have suggested. But I hate that schtick for reasons I’ll get into in some future newsletter.
Besides: Bud Light Seltzer? Practice?! Reader, I’ve simply got to aim higher. So I’m applying to fill the seltzer-slinging shoes Gajiwala left behind at White Claw. Here’s my cover letter.
[Urgent - Please Read - Attention Required] Hire me, White Claw
Attn: Phil Rosse, President, Mark Anthony Brands
CC: Anthony von Mandl, malt-beverage multibillionaire
August 20th, 2020
What up, papi? I hear you’re on the hunt for a new White Claw marketing whiz. Well you can call off the search, Philly boy, because I’m your man.
My name is Dave Infante, aka @dinfontay, aka D.J. Disappoint Your Parents. I’m an award-winning journalist based in Charleston, South Carolina, but as you may have heard, the media business is a white-hot shitfire these days, so those awards are worth only slightly less than my paychecks, which by the way I’m no longer receiving because I recently got laid off. You know how it is, king.
I say all that to say this: I’m down to market the shit outta some White Claw. Put me in coach, I’m ready to slay. Let’s get this bread, wherein bread is a massive #brand #awareness uptick for effervescent low-carb frat water. I wanna make bank, bro. I’m prepared to get in faces and move some cases. Synergize, optimize, seltzerize.
Now you’re probably thinking to yourself, How could this washed-up hack ever replace my main man Sanjiv? So glad you asked, Chill Phil. Let me break down my qualifications to you right quick.
I don’t drink White Claw. First off, I personally don’t give a shit about Le Claw. I’ve had like, four hard seltzers in my life. Just not my thing. I believe this makes me a valuable #asset to the brand, in that my brain has not been irreversibly poisoned by your malted mango consommé and therefore remains capable of identifying dumb and bad ideas from your R&D nerds. (Not that they’ve had any dumb and bad ideas yet; your people have been on a nonstop Rainman heater for like 18 months, and frankly, all propers due. But those flavor jockeys are going to run out of moves at some point, and you want me there when they do.)
I am prepared to dunk zestily upon all competition. I run this newsletter called Fingers about drinking culture and being online. It’s read by 100,000,000,000,000 people (give or take a few hundred trillion) every day, and if you hire me, I will use it to publish insanely brutal takes on all the other hard seltzer brands. Just look at what I wrote about Topo Chico’s Coke-compelled foray into the category! Upon reading this essay, everyone at the Coca-Cola Corporation probably submitted their resignations, left Atlanta, and now lives in an off-the-grid subsistence-farming tiny home commune in the Appalachian foothills. (I don’t know if that’s true, but you can’t prove that it’s not, so let’s just go with it, OK?) That one was my gift to you, future World’s Best Boss Phil Rosse. Just imagine the hit Fingers will put out on Truly once you’ve got its editor on the White Claw payroll!
What did Gajiwala even *do*, really? Let’s be honest with each other and ourselves: people don’t drink White Claw because it’s been marketed well. They drink it because it is vacuous, low-calorie bubble water, alienated from the labor by which it came to be, laced only with a simulacra of fruit and the numbing embrace of its damn-decent ABV. Your pal Sanjiv didn’t even come up with the “ain’t no laws when you’re drinking Claws” slogan! And how did he let fucking Natty Seltzer swoop in and sign the comedian who did?! That’s just marketing malpractice, phil.i.am. Not the sort of negligence you’d see if I was steering the ship, I’ll tell you that.
Speaking of “ain’t no laws…”: Are you Canadian, Ill Phil? If you are, you may not realize the extent to which the U.S. is a failed state hurtling towards full-blown fascism. As a citizen, it’s not tight! But make me your White Claw marketeer, daddy-o, and democracy’s loss can be Mark Anthony Brands’ gain. See, the American paramilitary fringe has taken a liking to your sparkling brews. Those boog bois that were showing up at the Black Lives Matter protests in Hawaiian shirts to “provide security” but also maybe spark violence that would trigger a second American Civil War? They love the Claw. In the business of #business, we call this a niche market, and Gajiwala the supposed “guru” clearly wasn’t serving them the content they craved. SMDH, amirite Phil? These dudes (they’re pretty much all dudes, because duh) are making their own t-shirts and patches and shit, while we could’ve been seeding them White Clawpocalypse merch this whole time! Now look, I’m not gonna sugar-coat it: there’s a chance that aligning the brand with a heavily armed, decentralized, anti-establishmentarian movement with some white supremacists in its ranks could backfire. Nothing is for sure, and I don’t want to sound alarmist, but… it could. Still, you’ve gotta ask yourself a question, Rosse da Boss: are you hiring someone to mitigate risk, or are you hiring someone to sell more White Claw? That’s what I thought. Day One, I’m on the horn with the boog bois, #collaborating on limited-edition Big Luau flavors and Claw-themed insignia. What could possibly go wrong?!
I can do some social media stuff, I guess. I don’t want to shit on whoever is running White Claw’s Instagram handle, but what is going on there, man? It’s just pictures of hard seltzer cans in grayscale with colorized labels. Did Gajiwala just hand out free Photoshop licenses to some sixth-year seniors in Beta Kappa Suckass? I feel like I’m at a weeknight gallery opening for that one “creative” aunt everyone has, but she’s not actually artistic so much as alcoholic and it’s getting a lot harder to ignore that in her work. You know what I mean? Shit be bleak, Pharrell Philliams, but I am here to help! (I refuse to download TikTok, though.)
Are there candidates with better credentials and more relevant experience than ol’ Dinfontay The Kid? Probably. I mean, almost certainly. I’ve never really marketed anything before. Tell me to build a deck and I’m headed to Lowe’s for some 2x4s. Share of voice? Never heard of her. As far as good cost-per-click rates on micro-targeted Facebook ad campaigns go, my two best guesses are $0.69 and $4.20, and even I am smart enough to realize there’s probably a better strategy than just aiming for The Good Numbers™ and hoping it all works out.
But on the other hand, I need a job, and it would be pretty righteous if you gave me this one. After all, White Claw really does sell itself, Phil. So go ahead: tap me for Gajiwala’s replacement. What’s the worst that could happen?
Thanks in advance for your time and consideration. I’m excited to hear more about the role, and look forward to the opportunity to discuss in more detail how I will tackle White Claw’s biggest marketing challenges with a whole-hog, soup-to-nuts, cross-platform approach that leverages both core-team and external resources to meet and exceed targeted KPI and achieve attractive ROI based on sustained YoY growth.
P.S.: Do you guys offer health insurance? Or can I just become a Canadian citizen? The United States’ pharmaceutical-industrial complex is decidedly Not Dece, and at the pace I plan to be drinking free White Claws after landing this gig, daddy’s gonna need a new liver sooner rather than later, if you know what I mean! (I mean I would never be able to afford an organ transplant in America’s predatory healthcare system, please get me out of here.)
Get you an anti-racist beer sticker!
I’m mailing out the first round of “I don’t drink beer with racists” stickers to the Fingers readers who have already ponied up some bucks (scroll to the bottom of this edition for details.) Want one of your own? Make a donation of $1 or more to either BeerKulture or the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and send a screenshot of your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will mail you a sticker anywhere in the US.