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Employees: Brand Ambassadors

Dawes Black Horse Brewery deployed its efforts on every front. It invested in internal communications and worked to make its workers ambassadors for the brand. Every employee received the bilingual in-house magazine published by National Breweries, the consortium to which the brewery belonged. This kept employees informed about the company’s activities, the operations of the various departments, equipment purchases and advertising strategies, as explained in a 1948 article by advertising manager Alex Thomson.

The NBL Review, later provided in separate English and French editions, also served to develop ties with the employees. Each month, it published the names of those with a new addition to the family. It included brief articles and humorous anecdotes submitted by employees. A road man might be congratulated for buying a new car, or someone else for a great start to the golf season. The employees’ names and photographs appeared, with mention of their years of service and their nationality. These efforts helped create a sense of belonging to the brewery. A proud, well-informed employee is a valuable spokesperson. In advertising, work of mouth is still the most profitable strategy.

Characters, Spokespersons or Stealth Marketing

Word of mouth is the oldest marketing technique in the world, but 21st-century advertisers have come up with a new twist. Unknown or little-known actors are hired to play “real people” in the street, for example, or in a café or an elevator, where they talk up a product’s virtues. Product ambassadors like these are paid by the advertiser, but their link to the company is not disclosed. This approach is known as stealth, buzz, covert or viral marketing.

The Internet is fertile ground for the stealth approach. Fake grassroots movements and fake blogs are sometimes created to promote a product or service. 

In My View

In the Black Horse ad campaign called D’après moi (In my view), the brewery put the faces of beer lovers front and centre. These men, identified with name and address, claimed to be Black Horse drinkers. Were they really? Only they could say for sure. But one thing is certain: even though they were ordinary folks, not engaging stars like the Quebec comedian Olivier Guimond, whose charisma helped promote Labatt beer in the 1960s, they acted as spokespersons or ambassadors for the brand.