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What a 93-year-old beer lover teaches us about marketing — and ourselves

An illustration of 93-year-old Pennsylvanian Olive Veronesi holding a sign that reads "I need more beer!!"

When 93-year-old Pennsylvanian Olive Veronesi was photographed standing behind a glass door, with a Coors Lite in one hand and a sign that read “I need more beer!!” in the other, the image went viral amid the virus. Millions shared it on social media. News media outlets jumped on it. Her story warmed hearts and put big smiles on all of our faces.

This got me thinking.

Thousands of stories, memes, acts of courage and kindness, and homemade art and dance displays have made their way into our social media and news feeds. So why did Olive get so much love?

Perhaps more important: What can we — as marketers and humans — learn from her?


Be a rebel

“That tastes pretty good,” she said.

Rebels resist conventions, norms, expectations, and control. Olive didn’t care that a senior sheltering in place during a pandemic “should” be resting easy, watching her favorite TV shows while snuggled up with a cozy old afghan.

Nope.

She wants beer. Not a hug. Not a cup of tea. Not a Hallmark card. Her request resonates with us because she defies expectations — not hers, but ours. Her request doesn’t jibe with our preconceived notions and therefore turns our heads. That is marketing and branding 101. Zag when everyone else is busy zigging.

Be simple

“I need more beer.”

Olive’s objective is simple. She doesn’t expect to have 10-15 goals met. She has honed her brief to its most basic essence. Never has a more streamlined business objective been written, and she has only one KPI: getting more beer.

She doesn’t say exactly how or when — although the two exclamation points clearly communicate urgency — or even from what audience; she trusts that through clarity of message, it will be heard. In fact, not only did Molson Coors fulfill the request, but dozens of other individuals offered to fulfill it, too. Goal met and exceeded.

Be empathetic

“I was on my last 12 cans, I have a beer every night,” Olive told CNN affiliate KDKA in Pittsburgh. “You know what, beer has vitamins in it, it’s good for you, as long as you don’t overdo it.”

How many of us have cracked a beer before 5 p.m. while working from home or had a glass of white wine while Zooming over lunch? Pretty much all of us, because we can. These small indulgences help make this quarantine a little easier to deal with. So when we see her message, we see ourselves in it. She is us and we are her.

We could all use a little more beer (or our indulgence of choice), Olive! We hear you loud and clear. She’s forged an emotional connection with us. Her message speaks to our current and shared experience and has no audience limitations — other than those under 21, perhaps.

Be human

Olive told KDKA she has been staying home to help flatten the curve and to keep everyone, including herself, safe during the pandemic.

The coronavirus crisis cannot be overcome without the sacrifice and tireless work of thousands of frontline health care, municipal service, restaurant, and child care professionals and volunteers. We support and protect them by staying at home.

Olive is in this with us. She is doing her part and understands the importance of her own small quarantine sacrifice. Because of this, she reminds us of our humanity through humor as she makes millions of us smile together.

Be grateful

Molson Coors delivered 10 cases of Coors Light to help Olive continue quarantining without having to venture out for more alcohol.

As soon as the beer arrived, she cracked one open on her porch. Later she updated her sign to read “Got more beer!” So Olive teaches us one more lesson: be thankful.

Image credit: Winston Peraza

Shawn Kruggel
Shawn Kruggel
Shawn Kruggel is the vice president of creative strategy at Belo + Company. As a brand strategist and creative challenger, he's driven by the curious nature of humanity. He's a beer drinker, metal lover, and book hoarder.