Remembering The Old Hamm’s Beer Bear

HammsbeerbearDon’t you just hate it when you get a song into your head and it keeps playing over and over again to the point of being ad nauseum.   Even worse than a song…what about those cutesy advertising jingles that are designed to be short, sweet and very memorable?   Well, I’m not exactly sure how it happened…but today I got the old Hamm’s Beer jingle into my head and it’s working overtime to accomplish its goal.

Actually, if a person must obsess about a jingle you could do far worse than the Hamm’s Beer jingle.   At least it’s short and sweet.   But more importantly, it’s not about the music alone…rather, it’s about the state of mind that is evoked when you hear the jingle and think of the goofy mascot bear performing some stunt in the Northland of Minnesota.   Indeed, the Hamm’s Beer ad campaign is often heralded as one of the most successful promotions in the history of American advertising.   And that’s saying quite a bit considering the ads only ran in 31 states where the beer was once available.

For those who are unfamiliar with the music from the jingle, click here.   The lyrics are also short and sweet:

 “From the Land of Sky Blue Waters (Waters),
  From the land of pines, lofty balsam,
  Comes the beer refreshing,
  Hamm’s the Beer Refreshing”.

Fact is, if you’re under the age of 35 or so and you grew up outside the Midwest…the Theodore (or Theo) Hamm’s Bear probably means nothing to you.   The campaign was first created back in the 1950s but it got most of its mileage during the 60s and 70s.   The Hamm’s Bear was cute and cuddly…so it was a perfect family mascot that held viewing appeal for the entire family.

But aside from the immense popularity of the bear mascot, the true star in the marketing gimmick was the Northwoods and the cherished thoughts it evoked for the potential beer consumer.   Even today, a search on eBay will show that the Hamm’s Brewing bar signs are some of the most collectible of all brewing signs.   They showed a pristine north country that made you want to just grab your rod, reel and tacklebox while you kissed the wife goodbye as you headed out the door.   Ask anyone who remembers, those bar signs had a definite mesmerizing effect that connected life enjoying the North-country with a cool, refreshing, satisfying Hamm’s Beer.

So what does this all have to do with being a sportsman?   Quite honestly, it says quite a bit.   Obviously, it seems today’s marketers have largely forgotten the Northwoods appeal and the desirable effect it has on stirring raw emotions inside us.   There was a certain connectivity between Hamm’s Beer…the Northwoods…and being a sportsman that no longer exists today, at least not to the same level it once did.   Much like the old Hamm’s Brewery which now sits idle (in terms of use as a brewery) in St. Paul, Minnesota…the ad world seems to have forgotten that pine trees, pristine lake waters, and of course, bears can have a positive effect on people.

On the other hand, have today’s advertisers forgotten the Northwoods on purpose because it lacks the appeal it once held on the public?   Hmmm…   Think back to the beer ads you’ve seen on TV recently.   I think you would be hard-pressed to find any that incorporate the inviting wonders of the great outdoors.   But don’t limit yourself to just beer ads.   How many ads of any type today use the captivating aspects of the outdoors woven into their message?   Not saying you can’t recollect a few…but nothing stands out quite like the Hamm’s commercials.

Indeed, the Hamm’s Beer advertising message proved it’s possible to positively and effectively promote a product by hinting at the appeal of the Northwoods and its icons.   Today, the only commercial that even comes close to accomplishing the same effect on me is the new Dodge Truck ads featuring Paul Bunyan and Babe.   Even so, this ad campaign somehow pales in comparison to the affinity I have always felt with Hamm’s Beer…and this is a statement coming from a man who doesn’t even drink beer.   Why else would I have been whistling the jingle long after the ads last appeared for the brew?

© 2006 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.