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The website for Narragansett Brewing Co. is short on some of the usual corporate content. Instead of the usual stuff, you’ll find it loaded with contests, event listings and sections where consumers are invited to submit their own material.
For example, drinkers submit videos for a “Crush It Like Quint” contest, in which they squash empty cans in emulation of Robert Shaw’s character in the movie “Jaws.”
The innovative marketing approach has made the Providence company, founded in 2005, a top success story in the independent beer market. Earlier this year Narragansett appeared on Inc. magazine’s list of the 5,000 fastest-growing companies in the United States. Last year sales hit 650,000 cases. This year’s goal: 800,000.
The company’s sales effort is not only effective, but shockingly inexpensive: the budget is a skimpy $100,000. Mat Medeiros, one of Narragansett’s marketing directors, called it “grassroots.” He added that the company does run commercials, but very few.
“Commercials are easy to ignore,” he said. “But if you’re in a bar, you’ll notice our coasters. They have puzzles printed on them.”
The Narragansett brand has actually been around for 120 years, and back in the ’50s it was one of the top sellers in New England. But by the late ’70s, its popularity had faded. In 2005, entrepreneur Mark Hellendrung purchased the all-but-forgotten label, tracked down a retired company brewer who remembered the recipe, and relaunched the beer with fresh marketing ideas. •CEO (or equivalent):
2011 REVENUE: $5,948,289
2009 REVENUE: $2,776,584
3-YEAR GROWTH %: 114