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  • Fraser Metcalf

LET’S DO THE MATS

Updated: Apr 17



Finding the right gift for Father's Day


Advertisers are gearing up for Father’s Day just as I have reached that stage in life where I genuinely appreciate getting socks – which should make life easier for my kids if they a) remember it’s Father’s Day and b) haven’t spent all their money on festival tickets.  However, I have also been pondering how best to do a little advertising for my book, ‘How to Order a Beer in any Country in the World’, that will capitalize on this not so big day. 

 

I mean, Father’s Day and a book about beer go together like a pint and a packet of pork scratchings, so it would be too good an opportunity to miss. So far, I’ve dabbled a little with sponsored posts off the back of my growing FizzyMetcalf Instagram account, but I don’t think I’ve quite cracked that medium yet. I’ve got some great reviews of the book on Amazon, done a press release and got some newspaper coverage, so awareness has been growing. Yet, I keep thinking what I haven’t done yet, and what I should be quite good at given my many years as a copywriter, is actually getting out there and selling the book directly.

 

Anyway, as I sat in the pub thinking about next steps, I found the answer, or at least, an answer, staring my in the face. The humble beer mat. Now, there was a time when the beer mat was as common a sight in a pub as a sticky floral carpet. Today, they might not seem quite as ubiquitous, but you can still spot them in many an establishment, serving their time honoured role of mopping up the beer you’ve spilt and providing something to rip up and play with when you’re bored of your phone.

 

So, I decided to do a little research into beer mats, mostly about costs and formats and QR codes and the like. It transpires they are remarkably good value… a thousand mats for not much more than a hundred quid. Even I can do the maths on that one.  Of course, my investigations also led me down the internet rabbit hole into the history of beer mats too. They were first invented in Germany in the 1880s by a company called Friedrich Horn and made of cardboard. Before long, a new version was introduced by a rival made from liquid pulp which had twin advantages – they were much more absorbent and could be printed on.  The rest is history… brewers were quick to see the advantage of ready-made advertising literally staring you in the face as you downed your pint. Before long beer mats had found their way to the UK and they’ve been a part of pub life ever since.

 

Today, they’re made of recycled material, so we can happily shred, tear and drown our beer mats, without having to worry about deforestation. And the advent of eCommerce and QR codes means that your beer mat doesn’t just have to lead you to the bar and your next pint, but can take you straight to a product or promotional page.  Which sounds good to me.

 

So, beer mats it is. And to be honest, having a beer mat with my book and my name on it  will give me an irrational amount of pleasure. And the many people who actually collect beer mats – they’re called tegestologists by the way - might like them too. It’s quite a hobby - collections regularly come up for sale a auction and, according to the Guinness Book of Records, Leo Pisker of Langenzersdorf, Austria, has collected 152,860 different beer mats from 192 countries to date.

 

Now, all I’ve got to do is figure out the distribution. I think I’ve got the local area covered. For some strange reason I seem to be on first name terms with many of the staff in my local pubs, and they have all seemed quite amenable to the idea. But I’d like to go national – and tempted as I am to travel round the country, dropping into pubs, drinking pints and asking landlords if they might like some - I think a more formal approach to both tied and free houses might be in order.

 

In the meantime, with my beer mats soon to be cluttering up the hallway, I’ll start practising to break the world record for beer mat flipping – currently held by pub game legend Dean Gould who has simultaneously (that’s with two hands) flipped 130 mats, that’s 65 in each hand!

 

 

 

 

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