It’s been a little while since the last example we’ve shared showing a brand turning its face, or a blind eye, on age-old rigid trademark advice, counseling against using a brand name as a verb.

Given the more common trend of many alcoholic beverage brands focusing attention and their messaging on drinking responsibly, MillerCoors has made a surprising choice with Hamm It Up!

While we’re all for encouraging brand owners to carefully explore the true risk of genericide from verbing their brand name, encouraging drinkers to be “ridiculous or over the top,” is over the top.

We get it, Hamm’s is going gangbusters as an economy beer brand, but there is a way to verb an alcohol brand more gracefully, so I’m left wondering when MillerCoors will, let’s say, Hang it Up?

UPDATE: In case you’re wondering, the microscopic text in the lower right corner of the billboard reads like a disclaimer: “ENJOY IN MODERATION.” How’s that for a messaging mixed drink?

  • This is one of those rare occasions where the marketing and legal departments should be alignment — this has to be the worst billboard in recent history.

    If you’re a smart brand with a great team, taking the “stinky cheese” route to your messaging is nearly as sad as a worldwide music phenom ending up opening the county fair. As a human race, we have more creative capacity than this billboard indicates — please send this back for a redo.

    Thank you for trying.

  • Mark Prus

    If that is the best slogan the ad agency could come up with, they should resign. Not exactly “When You’re Out of Schlitz, You’re Out Of Beer.” or “The One Beer to Have When You’re Having More Than One.” (Schaefer). Yes, they are “verbing” the trademark which is never a good idea…but more than that they are wasting scarce marketing money. I don’t see how “Hamm It Up” aligns with their brand promise or history. Hamm’s…The Beer Refreshing has a long heritage of selling itself as superior quality beer because of its origins (https://shop.hamms.com/history). Hamm It Up! feels like an invitation to a kegger party.

  • James Mahoney

    Trademark considerations aside, I like it. Spending almost my entire life east of the Mississippi, I haven’t heard of Hamm’s before. I have no history with the brew nor its brand promise, so I’m looking at this with virgin eyes.

    I see this as a celebratory “call to action,” which is the category that a lot of alcohol drinks play in: You’re doing something fun or you deserve a little reward, so Hamm it up!

    Now, if it were an invitation to over-indulge, or tap that big kegger, baby, then they would have said something like, “It’s Hamm-er Time” or “Slam a Hammer!” (both of which satisfy trademark sensibilities).

    But “Hamm It Up!”? I read that as “do it right” or “take your drink up a notch.”

    “Enjoy in Moderation”? Yeah, that really would have made my 22-year-old self think twice before grabbing another beer of four. Like “smoking is dangerous for your health,” it’s a wink and a nod that meets a regulatory or well-meaning crusader group’s demand, but has virtually zero effect on the vast majority of partakers. At a certain point, most of us drinkers come to understand the wisdom of moderation, but that’s from a combination of experience and age, not from Mom’s admonition.

  • stevebaird

    Aaron, Mark, and James, thanks for sharing your diverse insights and perspectives about the Hamm’s billboard, from each of your unique and expert branding perspectives.
    If it’s any consolation, I’m guessing three lawyers looking at it might lack perfect alignment too. For what it’s worth, from a legal perspective, I’m thinking MillerCoors can manage this verbing use without a serious risk of trademark genericide, even though virtually every set of trademark use guidelines would forbid this kind of use based on that perceived risk.
    James, interesting perspective on the degree of encouragement the billboard promotes — I can almost picture an active pair of MC Hammer Pants motating in the next billboard!

  • Martha Engel

    “Hamm It Up” is a throwback reference to a questionably “catchy” jingle in a 1960s Hamm’s commercial. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bm_1y7EQnoE

    Nostalgia is a huge part of the Hamm’s brand and its popularity among millenials. Aside from the cringeworthy verbing of a brand, I personally don’t think the ad’s that terrible. The ad feels old and nostalgic while the beer is “refreshing” – just like a dive bar.