Key Marketing Pieces Saugatuck Laid Out for New Campaign to Be a Success

Photo courtesy Saugatuck Brewing

Using a newer brand to raise awareness on an important subject to the brewery, Saugatuck Brewing recently announced a new campaign during trout fishing season in Michigan to help raise funds for habitat restoration initiatives with the state’s Department of Natural Resources.

SBC’s Rainbow Rodeo IPA — which was released at the end of April in 2023 for the first time — shines a light on Michigan’s reputation as a fly-fishing mecca, and celebrates its tens of thousands of cold, quality trout streams and hundreds of trout lakes. Pairing this beer with this campaign made sense as an opportunity.

Before formalizing the partnership, the brewery’s CEO John Miller, and Marketing Director Sara VanSplinter said the two organizations had several interactions that laid the groundwork for collaboration. 

“SBC recognizes the work that the DNR is doing, and the partnership came together through a combination of shared values, mutual respect, and a shared vision for making a positive impact on the environment,” they wrote in an email.

Embracing the brewery’s love for the outdoors is not just a marketing opportunity for Saugatuck — located near the shores of Lake Michigan in western Michigan.

“It’s at the very heart of our brewery’s story,” they said. “We’re eager to engage consumers beyond beer, sharing our passion for protecting our state’s beauty and wildlife.” 

Looking at the beer as a brand itself, they said they saw a need for a bright, easy-drinking American IPA to round out the company’s current portfolio.

For it to make a splash on the shelves, VanSplinter drew inspiration from Michigan’s reputation as a fly-fishing mecca and the brewery’s love for the waters surrounding us. 

“She’s a force of nature, a celebration of our backyard, and also a little symbol that women enjoy beer and fishing, too,” VanSplinter said. 

READ MORE: The Ways Saugatuck Upped Its Food Game

That meant digging into ways to help the campaign blossom.

Starting in May and running through October, the brewery first made sure its distributors understood the objectives of the campaign and to make sure they supported this as well. 

“Securing their focus and willingness to donate is a huge win for the DNR and this program,” they said. “Also, giving the consumers the opportunity to donate — via QR/text code — as well makes this even more impactful.”

In addition to educational seminars held at the company’s brewpubs, they will organize field days with the DNR’s team to provide both the brewery team and distributors with hands-on experiences at various sites. 

“These field days will offer unique opportunities to learn about ongoing restoration projects, participate in habitat maintenance activities, and interact directly with DNR experts,” they said. “By immersing ourselves in these experiences, we hope to deepen our understanding of the challenges and opportunities in conservation efforts and further strengthen our partnership with the DNR.”

They will also share these compelling stories and updates about the partnership with the DNR on SBC’s social media and through the brewery’s website splash page, promoting upcoming events and initiatives while encouraging followers to get involved and support habitat restoration efforts.

“The focus is more on fostering long-term awareness and showcasing the collaborative impact of uniting private and public interests,” they said instead of focusing on how much money they want to raise. “While every drop sold will help generate funds … this is a team effort.”

The money generated from this partnership will contribute to work that will benefit Michigan’s waters and Michigan’s anglers, focusing on battling invasive species, fostering the growth of fish populations, and ensuring sustainable fishing for future generations.

“I firmly believe that by working together, we can preserve and protect Michigan’s natural treasures for generations to come,” said Scott Bowen, Director of the Michigan DNR, in a press release. “This work isn’t just a job; it’s a responsibility we owe to our children and grandchildren. Every action we take today shapes the future of our environment, the outdoor-based recreation Michigan is known for, and the places we love.”

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