This t-shirt design has a funny history, and maybe a lesson attached to it! Well, my brother George came up with a tagline which said, “Beer, Now Cheaper than Gas.” Sounds timely, right? The only thing is, we came up with it in 1998, when gas was hitting $1.50-2.00/gallon. We had a t-shirt booth at Milwaukee’s Summerfest, and we put it out quickly, simply using red stencil lettering on a gray t. It sold well, but gas prices dropped slightly, and we in turn, dropped the design from our retail line, and that was that.
Well, in March of 2005, when I was getting designs ready for Summerfest, I came across George’s design, and realized that gas prices were going up for summer again, and there was some press about it. So, I re-designed the shirt, making a simple retro beer label in 2-colors with an old gas nozzle illustration. I actually tried to make it a bit gaudy, using yellow and brown ink, and leaving it on a simple white shirt. At the very end, I thought the design needed a little tagline, like some beer advertising would have, so I added, “Drink, Don’t Drive.” It was clever to me, because it was a positive message, yet true. This time sales were even better, and we started to wholesale the design to retailers such as airport gift shops, Macy’s, Spencer Gifts, in addition to our own locations and website. Over the course of the following 18 months, the shirt sold over 100,000 units. Again, though, we tired of it, feeling like the shirt had run it’s course.
Well, the summer of 2008 approached, and gas prices are crazy, topping $4.00/gallon nationwide. This time, I simply added some fashion brown shirts to the mix, but re-released the design as is. Well, the design and taglines have reached further than I could have imagined. Do a google search for Beer Cheaper than Gas, and you see take-offs, rip-offs, stunts, scantily clad women, and hopefully, some of our shirts. In addition to formatting our own “cease-and-desist” letters, we still can’t believe that one idea can continue to make people laugh, over the course of years and years. We even saw a piece done on CNN, where they tested beer and gas, and tried to prove that beer was actually cheaper, using our shirt as a spark to the debate. Strange strange strange times for Brew City!
Did I say there was a lesson? I guess I did. Well, when you have a good idea, and someone tries to shoot it down, don’t let them! Stick with your gut, keep trying. Sometimes, it’s not the “idea” that needs work…it’s the timing. I still believe that “ideas” are one of the most powerful things we do as human beings–we connect disparate objects into separate and new ideas. Don’t let anyone tell you, “No.”
Frank/Brew City Brand Apparel