Yes, you read that headline correctly. The Pabst Brewing Company is pulling up its Midwest operation's stakes and moving to sunny Southern California. What could possibly go wrong?
Pabst Brewing Company - which has been long associated with blue collar, working class beer aficionados through the better part of the 20th century - has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity due, in no small part, to its popularity among urban "hipsters" in cities such as New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Portland and Los Angeles. With nary an advertising presence, Pabst has enjoyed a strong brand recognition built seemingly on scenesters who view the Pabst brand as just outsider and quasi-tough enough to seemingly differentiate them from every other fixed gear-riding, indie-rock-listening-to-ing, tattoo-getting, shoe-hoarding, cheap beer-swilling individuals in really tight jeans.
Pabst Brewing Company, which is currently owned by billionaire investor C. Dean Metropoulos, has long considered itself (and its slew of subsidiary suds such as Blatz, Schlitz, Rainer, Old Milwaukee, Olympia, Colt 45, and many, many more) as the premier blue collar beer which made the Midwest the beer-brewing pride of America. Pabst, owned for about two decades by the charitable foundation of the late Los Angeles brewing mogul Paul Kalmanovitz was sold to Metropoulos after The Internal Revenue Service ordered the Kalmanovitz Charitable Foundation to sell the company due to federal law barring charities from owning a for-profit business for more than five years.
The reins of the Pabst Brewing Company's daily operations were handed over to Metropoulos' two sons, Daren and Evan, both of which live in Los Angeles, hence the operational move from the suburbs of Chicago to the Celluloid City (the brewing itself, which is handled by the Miller Brewing Company, will still take place in the Midwest). The Metropoulos' Brothers promise a sparkling new re-branding campaign involving celebrities and sports stars. But is all this high-glitz brand designing in sharp contrast to what made the Pabst brand so alluring and marginally profitable in the first place?
Pabst Blue Ribbon (or "PBR" as it is affectionately called) enjoys a certain air of understated/overrated working class, tough-as-nails charm. It's no muss, no fuss blue, white and red design has changed ever so slightly over the years (read: decades) and the Pabst brand succeeds largely in part to it's perception as both an "every man" beer, and the fact that its marketing campaign is virtually nonexistent and word-of-mouth (no insulting print or television advertisements featuring scantily clad women or doofus bro hams in idiot scenarios, it seems, were necessary to move this brew). Pabst is what it's always been; a decent beer at a nominal price.
Moving the Pabst Brewing Company's headquarters to Los Angeles (the one American city above all others which is perceived as being distinctly un-working class, un-blue collar) may hurt the Pabst image. However, it simply seems like an odd, perplexing move (both literally and figuratively). Adding a new marketing blitz featuring celebrities you know can afford and drink better, more expensive alcoholic beverages is akin to dressing Archie Bunker up in Phat Farm clothing and making him party with Jay-Z. Possibly not the best idea for this storied beer brand.