Engaging the Community is ‘Hamms’ Down a Great Marketing Strategy

As resilient as the communities they originate in, brands that are ingrained in their community have shown that they are here to stay. Hamm’s beer, a brand founded in 1865, is experiencing an astounding resurgence after being acquired by MillerCoors. The beer from the “land of sky blue waters”, St. Paul Minnesota, over 150 years later, is making itself known in the economy beer segment. Hamm’s made its appearance on the Top 10 List for beer in the Summer of 2017, and by September of 2017 its distribution was up 63.2% in sales dollars and it had a case volume jump of 75.9%. This trend is continuing into 2018 with a 96% year-to-growth date reported in February. How is this ‘old man’ beer that seemed to peak in the 1950s now a come-back kid in 2018? The answer lies in their community-based marketing that provides an authenticity that cannot be replicated and a sense of heritage that resonates with customers.


The Hamm’s Brewery was founded in St. Paul Minnesota by Theodore Hamm and grew to prominence by the 1950s, becoming the fifth largest brewery in the nation. The brewery provided a century of good-paying jobs on St. Paul’s East Side and great drinks that captured the spirit of the Midwest. The spirit of the Midwest was the foundation of the Hamm’s brand and this was apparent in the memorable advertising that landed Hamm’s on Advertising Age’s list of best ad campaigns of the 20th century and provided the basis for its resurgence of sales in the 21st century.

The campaign featured the Hamm’s bear in Minnesota scenery and “The Land of Sky Blue Water” jingle. The ads and jingle made their way into the homes of Midwesterners through their baseball sponsorships. Hamm’s brought big-league baseball to the Twin Cities, establishing a broadcasting network for Minnesota’s MLB team, The Twins, that carried the team’s games into seven states. Tuning into a Twins game on the television or radio, was akin to inviting the Hamm’s brand into your home. Hamm’s became a Minnesota Hallmark, with “The Land of Sky Blue Water” as its calling card.

Hamm’s presence was so influential in the community that in 2000, the St. Paul Pioneer Press named the Hamm’s Bear as one of the “150 Most Influential Minnesotans of the Past 150 Years”. Hamm’s brought the essence of the Midwest into bars and homes with a variety of lights, signs and other memorabilia that promoted the brand and the land it’s from. The marketing campaign not only made the beer a success, but it also helped to make Minnesota a vacation destination. All these efforts made it clear that Hamm’s isn’t just from Midwest, it is part of it too.


Hamm’s community-based marketing gave the brand an authenticity that does not go unnoticed by the consumer market. The brand is now benefiting with growing sales from Midwesterners that enjoyed the beer during the 20th century and millennials alike. Hamm’s has a loyal following that not only enjoys their beer but also collects and hosts shows for Hamm’s memorabilia. There is such a market for these goods that the Hamm’s Scene-a-Rama signs that feature Minnesota scenery go for over $1,500 on eBay.

Beyond the super fans, Hamm’s is gaining traction with a new, millennial, market that enjoys the history of the beer along with its value pricing. When MillerCoors purchased Hamms, they did not change the hometown flavor or artwork, instead, they are capitalizing on the history of the brand. Cracking open a Hamm’s brings a sense of nostalgia and heritage for the drinkers as Hamm’s found a way to put the legacy of a community into a can.  This is the true recipe for lasting success in a market where there is a seemingly endless amount of options for products, but very few that feel authentic, personal and community-oriented.

If you’d like to learn more about how to take a community building approach to your marketing, reach out to us. We’d be more than happy to chat with you!

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