Pabst Auction Has a New Bidder: Its Hipster Customers

Ever think you’d be competing against a crowd of young, hip (and possibly drunk) twenty-somethings in an M&A auction? Bet not.

Through social networking and crowdsourcing, two ad agencies are hoping to cobble together $300 million in pledges to make a bid on Pabst Brewing Company. In the past two weeks, they’ve collected $11 million in pledges from cheap-beer aficionados, through BuyaBeerCompany.com.

As delusional the whole thing sounds, that’s faster than most buyout firms can put together a financing package these days. And face it, if they really approach the company with $300 million in cash (no contingencies!), the sellers may consider the offer, at least for a minute, right? Power to the people, right?

Well, probably not. The campaign hasn’t actually even contacted Pabst or Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which is running the auction. In fact, the entire campaign, including the purchase price, is based around a Nov. 2 New York Post article declaring the company for sale, all according to one source. For all we know, that $300 million is a dream price that a sell-side banker leaked to the Post to drum up buyer interest. So I hate to dash your hopes of being a “small business owner” or something, dear hipsters, but the Buy a Beer Company campaign is light years behind in the due diligence process.

According to Brian Flatow, president of The Ad Store, one of the agencies behind the campaign, the whole thing is more of an experiment in crowd sourcing. “We were talking about crowd sourcing in general, and how we thought crowd sourcing produced crappy advertising that lacked real insight,” he told peHUB. So they decided to launch a campaign with a real goal behind it.

He said he believes the two agencies, who have not been retained by Pabst or any of the involved parties, could put together a decent management team to run the company. I pointed out the irony of that thought, considering Pabst uses almost no advertising. The iconic brand has undergone a revival as a scenester brand in the past five years through no effort of its own-Pabst has avoided marketing to its hipster customers, fearing any recognition of its newfound coolness would undermine its credibility as “ironic.”

I asked Flatow if the campaigns were really serious. He said, “We’re serious in the sense that we’d love to get to $300 million. We never imagined we’d even get to $11 million.” Power to the people!