New Belgium has a Belgian brewmaster. Makes sense, right? Until you meet that brewmaster and things start becoming a bit surreal. Peter Bouckaert is not your pick of the barrel brewer. More like turn the barrel on its head and take a completely different approach to brewing beer type of brewer. Throw IBU mandates out the window. Take all "style" restrictions and push them. Create from atypical angles. It's what makes Peter so perfect for New Belgium, and New Belgium so attracted to Peter. (That, and his saucy buzz cut.) Enough translation. Let's hear directly from Peter.
Insert Belgian accent: "Coming to the U.S. I notice people think in "styles". They say, "It's European style," or "It's a Brussels style ale." What is style? There's no such thing. It's absolutely nonsense in my eyes. Especially as a designer - it's a box. It limits you. If you call it a Pale Ale or a Pilsner, I don't care! What I do care about is do you like it?"
Peter on the creative process: "So, when my brain is thinking, "I need to create. I need to get another beer out." I start out boring, with notebooks and paper - and it doesn't go anywhere. It's absurd for me to write stuff down - to work on a computer to create beer. This is my process: get out of the brewery. Get away from the environment. Take three steps back. See everything around me as a whole. See the beauty. Totally unrelated things start to come together. That's where I'll get a spark. An explosion really. That's where it comes."
See what we mean? It took our creative team an afternoon of sitting down with Peter and some beers to realize their concept for a brewmaster advertisement would need to be as atypical as the brewmaster himself.
ENTER JOHN JOHNSTON
John is an artist. He's a photographer. He collects anything quirky, old, arty and saves it for a use he knows not when he picks it up. So, when John sat down with Peter, he got more than a little inspired. He discovered an affinity for the creation of beer. He appreciated the artistry involved in Peter's approach. He threw out all his original ideas and notebook scribbles and let the explosion happen.
The result? Magritte as beer folly was born.
Taking cues from famous surrealist art, the ad pictures Peter in a floating bowler hat. And while many may not know the artist's name is Rene Magritte and that he, too, was Belgian, the imitation still resonates. So, while we struggled with, "Does surrealism belong in a beer ad?" and "Would Peter ever wear a suit?" we left it to the artists to create. After all, isn't that how the greatest things come to life?
BEER, FLEMISH SAYINGS, AND BLUE HOUSES
So, while John crafted, Peter brewed. This ad was born and Peter fulfilled his "Blah-blah-blah," obligations. The result should leave you with a hankering for some inspired New Belgium beer, poured into a New Belgium glass and a strange desire to go to a museum and hear Jazz music. No? Well, maybe you need to see the video.