I am regularly told that I praise SAB too much, that I’m not the vehement opponent of scientific or industrialised that I should be. Well, there’s a good reason for that, because I’m really not opposed to scientific or industrial brewing at all, and therefore I’m not fundamentally opposed to SAB like a lot of people who enjoy craft beer are. In reality, SAB exist on a different plane to South(ern) Africa’s micro- and macrobrewing communities. There exists a dichotomy in many people’s minds between SAB and craft brewing that is in my opinion false. I know it’s tempting to think like that - because that was my opinion for a long time too - but I think it’s reasonable to say that SAB has a wholly legitimate part to play as both a beer producer and a listed company, especially in a country like ours where most people can’t even begin to imagine being able to regularly afford craft beer.
That said, SAB do bad things sometimes, and Carling Black Label’s latest publicity stunt is a case in point. Their attempt to “rename” the town of Darling to Carling for the duration of the Rocking the Daisies music festival, which is taking place in the Western Cape’s most affectionately-named town this coming weekend, is one of the most meat-brained things I’ve heard of in my life.
Mr Cape Town writes:
“We’re taking over Darling and we’re giving it a Champion name. It’s not Darling, it’s Carling,” explains Carmen Heunis, Carling Black Label Brand Campaign Manager. Show your support for this movement by visiting the website and add your names to the online petition. Join the campaign and win a set of double tickets to the festival. Spread the word and do whatever you can to make this happen.
Well known to SAB and Carling’s marketers, Darling already has a brewing namesake: the eponymous Darling Brewery (link).
I can just imagine the SAB marketer who thought, eyes widening, “Darling… Carling? That’s like - oh, oh my God - that’s, like, one letter’s difference.”
This may seem pretty harsh - it’s just marketing on the surface, after all - but it’s a shame how a local brewery is being implicitly bullied in what is essentially their market and on what is essentially their turf, even if they’re Darling’s in name only at the moment (they brew at Boston Breweries’ premises with Darling-grown wheat) - especially as it seems to be done with a great deal of spite.
But on second thought, it doesn’t just seem spiteful. The campaign’s “It’s not Darling, it’s Carling” slogan is too pointed and too exact to not have spiteful undertones.
I could be wrong. I hope I’m wrong. I would link you to the Carling, Not Darling site but my gut feeling is that it’s a premise that is far too idiotic for me to consider pushing whatever little traffic I receive directly towards it.
If you are going to Rocking the Daisies this weekend - and you should because the lineup, which includes Lark, Belleruche, Gazelle, Civil Twilight and aKing, is exceptional - you should try find some Darling beers while you’re in town. They’re delicious, and possibly even more so after a weekend trudging ankle-deep through a field of discarded Black Label tallboys.