Plato had a choice phrase or two up his sleeve it’s fair to say. None more apposite to now than “our need will be the real creator”, liberally reinterpreted as “necessity is the Mother of invention”.
Tough times in the on-trade have got some creative juices flowing in the face of desperate need. Here’s one or two, occasionally light-hearted, observations on what I’ve witnessed in the press recently.
Shifting the on-trade to a hybrid, click & collect take-home service shows promise beyond immediate invention. Perhaps not totally new if you’ve ever been to rural Ireland, but the advantage here is more than just revenue for ailing local pubs and bars, or somewhere to buy dried pasta and a take home pint at the same time. It puts local, residential on-traders at the heart of the community where they belong. Communities need hubs and this has shown it can be done to an eager, sympathetic audience who want to support local businesses, enjoy imaginatively prepared ingredients to serve at home, and frankly are looking for a chance to get out and interact with other adults.
Amusingly, and going further, McKeever’s Bar in Rathrinagh, Ireland has taken the novel step of delivering “bottles of Heineken, or sometimes a few cans of Bulmer’s” by drone to its customers. Priceless. If Plato had a van, surely he’d have taken a lead from Forest Road Brewing in and around Hackney, East London who are offering locals the chance to enjoy a pint out of the back of their “tactical beer response unit”. Yes, a bar in a Transit.
Carlsberg’s ‘Love My Local’ initiative is an admirable reinforcement of their “friends of the trade” reputation in the UK. Its aim to help licensees set up an online click and collect service is a good example of commercial support, which helps pubs to help themselves by using a large corporate supplier’s assets.
Camden Brewery’s ‘Heroes’ lager may seem a shade opportunistic to the coldest hearted but I respect and admire the speed and agility with which they got this brand to market, working with equally agile operators like the Yummy Pub Co to distribute it to key workers. Why shouldn’t they make a little brand capital from it, to mutual benefit? It shows them as confident, in touch, empathetic and just the right side of virtuous. Not bad values for a beer, all considered.
After that, to be honest I’m struggling to find any innovations that are really setting the channel alight. Greenhouses in Amsterdam offering isolation meals for two? Or, if that’s not odd enough for you, a table for one in a field somewhere in Sweden with your meal delivered on a washing line. Somehow, delivery by drone seems normal in comparison.
So maybe the final point here is a call to action to innovate further and for more collaboration between brand owners and operators. Barfly’s latest COVID-19 Musing explicitly considers that very point – head to our Musings page to check it out.
Finally, Plato also said “Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something”. So, maybe I should leave it there.