Brewing Beer for our Soldiers

Paige Haley (left) and Kimberly Rogers, founders of 50 Back Brewing.

Many Americans enjoy a cold beer, including our soldiers. Boston brewery 50 Back Brewing Company has seen tremendous success with a marketing campaign designed around military outreach and donating beer to our soldiers.

50 Back, a Boston brewing company, promotes its business widely by hosting celebrations for active duty soldiers and veterans on military bases. The company uses Facebook and Twitter to reach out to groups that support veterans and military families. “We also attend as many veterans functions as possible and donate product for fundraisers throughout the year to honor our nation’s heroes,” Ms. Haley said. The company was incorporated in Boston on Veterans Day 2009.

For every purchase of 50 Back American Lager, which they have dubbed “The Brew of the Brave,” the owners donate a percentage of the profits to charities committed to supporting veterans and active duty-service members and their families. “We started by wanting to say thank you to our own family members, friends, neighbors and all of those who have served,” said Kimberly Rogers, who founded 50 Back in 2010 with Paige Haley.

However, a unique campaign surfaced when Ms. Rogers and Ms. Haley decided they wanted to find a way for people to do something for soldiers — even if they weren’t buying a beer for themselves. They brainstormed an idea to create a campaign that would allow people to buy a beer for a soldier, and decided on using QR codes. In March, hoping to generate buzz about the brand and promote its mission of supporting the troops, 50 Back Brewing introduced its Buy a Soldier a Beer program.

According to the New York Times, the program encourages smartphone users to scan the two-dimensional, black-and-white code that it places on all of their promotional materials — flyers, coasters, packaging, stickers, posters, point-of-sale displays — to reach their landing page. There, visitors are given three options: post a message on the 50 Back Facebook page, post a message on Twitter, or buy a soldier a beer.

All QR Code purchases are handled through Text2Pay. The visitor’s cellphone account is charged $1.99 — Text2Pay takes $.99 of every purchase as a processing fee — and the person has bought a soldier a beer. More than 75,000 people have scanned the QR code since March, and the company has given away more than 7,400 beers — all delivered to various military bases in the Boston area.

Still, the campaign is not really a revenue driver. “We did it to create brand awareness as much as anything,” Ms. Haley said.

The beer is currently available in more than 150 restaurants and retail outlets in Massachusetts, North Carolina, Maine and Texas, with plans for expansion throughout New England.