PBR Lifestyle Marketing Manager Steve Nilsen is setting his sights on making PBR the beer of choice for action sports and personally we think he’s crushing it. We caught up with Nilsen to discuss some of our favorite things: collabs, riding, parties, beer, and turning it all into a business.
So you’re the lifestyle marketing manager these days?
I wasn't allowed to use the title I wanted which was, "Purveyor Of What You Need."
Why is it important for a brand the size of PBR to be so involved with action sports?
We're actually not as large of an organization as you would think, which makes taking care of our consumer that much more paramount. The action sports industry has—to a degree—adopted PBR as the beer of choice, and my job is to keep the momentum and support going. That, coupled with seeking out new opportunities for brand growth, makes for an interesting gig.
What benefits do you see for your brand in supporting industry events?
For those who drink alcohol, there's something to be said for crushing a beer at the end of the day after hitting the streets, mountain, dirt, water, et cetera. I guess I try and do my best to have PBR in the right places at the right time.
What are some of the events you support and how does your support team work within the industry?
There are PBR "Market Agents" sprinkled amongst the top markets in the country. Part of my job is to work with them on identifying local scenes, events, taste makers, et cetera, and supporting them in a unique way. Frankly, they wouldn't be PBR Market Agents if they didn't have a proverbial finger on the pulse of their cities/scenes. My goal is to always learn more about what is going on in a particular market, brainstorm ideas, and then help activate them.
You guys are really big on styling out local shops, resorts, and the general working shred. What's your philosophy on this and what's the ROI for you?
Never forget the "little guy." I started in retail, then became a rep, and so on… I'm not going to forget where I came from and the first people I take care of are: the 21 and over kids that are turning screws at the on-snow demos, the peeps setting up skate decks and tuning boards at shops, the crews getting the mountain/parks/tracks ready for us to enjoy. At the end of the day, these people are busting their asses to make the activities we all enjoy better. Many of these same people drink beer and PBR has become a go-to brand. In the scope of all the big beer companies, we're the "little guy" too.
Here’s a look at just a few of the events and collabs that Nilsen and PBR have been a part of recently:
You guys have been coming on really strong with the collabs this year with Union, Gnu, Spacecraft. Talk a little about that program and where those products are available?
I was a snowboard boot developer in a previous working life and have never lost my love of product. To this day, I'm a kid in a candy store ogling over the product offerings at SIA, Agenda, et cetera. I always leave those shows with a plethora of ideas for products/branding.
The first collab I ever pulled off was when I worked at Red Bull. I convinced the Austrians to let me work on a branded snowcat with Pisten Bully. It was a long arduous process to get the project completed but we definitely turned some heads with that machine. I wish I still had it!
That was a pretty big undertaking for a first time collab and I'm focused on much smaller/less-complicated projects since I've been at Pabst. The goal of my PBR collabs has never been about sales but rather building brand equity for both parties. The brands I've worked with are of a similar ilk.
Are any of them for sale?
Union utilized some of the bindings as incentives for their top accounts but I believe they were all snapped up before they even made it to retail. I focus on the type of marketing that inevitably leads to sales.
The traffic for releases on our site has been crazy!
You know you're onto something when they're fetching a premium on eBay.
What else do you have in the works on the collab side?
I'm going to give you the "wait-see" response to that one. Let's just say people will be stoked.
Boring. You looking at any other action sports? You guys do stuff in moto and BMX as well right? How about wake?
The snow industry and skate have obviously been very receptive to us and we're always trying to support local scenes. Regionally we have done some things with moto in California, BMX in the Northeast, and wake in Florida. We also own Primo beer, which is of Hawaiian heritage, and therefore been doing more and more with that brand to support surf.
What have been your three most fun PBR-sponsored shindigs this year?
On man, that's like asking someone about their three biggest slams they've ever had. They're a blur yet memorable to everyone in attendance.