Not Billie Dee Williams’ Colt 45

Ad Age looks at an age old truth about mature brands. They need to get new customers in the franchise in order to survive.

Talk about a marketing conundrum: Revive Colt 45 malt liquor — once seen as an exploitative product that preyed on the urban poor — as an edgy choice for young hipsters.
But Pabst Brewing Co. is trying to do just that, with a campaign from Seattle boutique Cole & Weber. To appeal to younger drinkers, Cole & Weber tapped graphic novelist Jim Mahfood (author of the volume “Classic 40 Ounce: Tales From the Brown Bag” and a regular contributor to alternative newsweeklies) to create a series of scenes and stories of young adults enjoying themselves with Colt 45. Most of the creative shows 20-somethings flaunting their oversize cans in social settings such as rooftop parties and dance clubs.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. In “dark” marketing (the selling of vices), an advertiser will often portray the other side of the tracks as alluring.

  2. Easy, Steffan1.
    “Dark” marketing has more meanings for a product typically associated with minority audiences. Although you are unintentionally (?) tapping into general marketers’ penchant for gaining allure via “portraying the other side of the tracks” through cultural forces like hip hop and street art.

  3. Why do I have the feeling I am the only one reading this blog who played Edward 40-hands with Colt-45?

  4. Have no fear, I too have played Edward 40-hands with Colt-45. You’re not alone.

  5. Crystal Gamble says:

    How has life been treating you. I am a big fan of Mr. Williams. I love Colt 45 beer.