It's so light and golden clear,
It's a truly fine pale beer
This jingle has proved to be worth about $4 million a word so far. Sung to the tune of "Clementine" on a host of California radio stations, it has impelled thousands of Californians to switch to Burgermeister. Sales for 1951 are up 33% over 1950 with annual sales of close to one million barrels.
That wasn't the situation in 1944 when 55-year-old German-born Henry E. Picard took over as general manager. Then, Burgermeister was but one of San Francisco Brewing's 14 private label beers, and all were lagging in sales.
Picard, a merchandising expert, dropped the private label and draught beers and selected Burgermeister as the one beer to advertise and promote. As evidence of his sales-building confidence he burned up $10,000 worth of private labels in one afternoon. A limited budget, about $50,000, was put behind Burgermeister and, as there were four million Northern Californians to reach, radio chain breaks were an almost automatic selection.
Picard explains, "Chain breaks would allow us to deliver the maximum number of sales messages for the money expended. Chain break time could be bought on good stations adjacent to programs with high ratings, while, at the same time, announcements were available next to programs with low ratings."
Californians have been hearing the "Burgie jingle" ever since its 1944 introduction but not always in the same way. Sometimes the jingle is speeded up; sometimes it's sung in a different key.
Despite the Burgermeister success in the last seven years, Picard modestly considers himself "an ordinary, straight-forward businessman." Now, with 50% of the ad budget going into radio, Picard still insists on a strict and simple advertising policy. No comparisons. No fancy claims. Nothing except "Burgermeister -- a truly fine pale beer. Picard's extra sales touch: San Franciscans within hearing distance can listen to to chimes atop the brewery building play "Clementine" at 10 a.m., 3, 5 and 8 p.m.
From Sponsor, December 31, 1951