"We've been saying all along that the Pittsburgh Nation is" an untapped audience, said Evan Contorakes, head of Ronin Advertising Group, the Miami-based ad agency that is organizing Iron City's new campaign. The campaign's name?"One City. One Nation. One Beer."Sounds pitch-perfect for the far-flung, Steelers-loving Diaspora. But don't expect a huge media rollout. Back in 1988, when Rolling Rock was spending its ad money on billboards and radio and TV spots, there was no e-mail, no Twitter, no Facebook. Mr. Contorakes hopes to use the Internet's social networking capabilities to not only promote the brand in Texas, Florida and California, but also -- and more importantly -- identify the bars where Pittsburgh expats go, and use that information to get Iron City and I.C. Light stocked at nearby beer distributors.By his figuring, the hundreds of thousands of people who left the city in the '70s, '80s and '90s (and he's one of them -- he lived in Washington, Pa., until moving to Florida in the 1980s) all have kids now."This could be a million people," he said. "They're going to do the work for us," by feeding the data to Iron City, reducing the money and legwork that goes into product placement. "It's going to be really interesting, this experiment."
The work of identifying Steelers bars is already done. The Post-Gazette does a good job of maintaining its list. But that information won't tell you where expatriates shop for beer. The market cache for a bar is huge. I'll drive 45 minutes to watch the game with my fellow fans. But if one understood how the regional beer marketed operated, then you would know where to stock the product. That information is also available online, if you know where to look.
I recommend getting Carl Kurlander and Jim Wexell on the phone. While you are at it, contact Audrey Russo at the Pittsburgh Technology Council. There is a common interest in appealing to the Burgh Diaspora. Iron City would make a great sponsor for any talent boomerang initiative. I'll sweeten the deal. If Iron City is in cahoots with the above named, I'll share what I know. Pro bono.