Craft Beer Marketing Awards Launches First Annual SeriesCraft Beer Marketing Awards Launches First Annual Series

The Craft Beer Marketing Awards is a nationwide competition and the very first awards program in the US to focus exclusively on retail beer marketing efforts.

The entry deadline is Jan. 31st 2020. The awards will take place in San Antonio, Texas.

We reached out to get a little more information about the folks behind the Craft Beer Marketing Awards.

Who are the organizers?

CBMAS co-founders Jim McCune and Jackie DiBella.

Tell us about yourselves?

Beer marketers from NY with 22 years of global craft beer industry experience.

How did you get this idea?

We’ve been to nearly a hundred beer tasting award competitions over the years, yet there’s never been an award competitions to recognize, and celebrate all the great work that designers, marketers, and branders do for beer. 2020 CBMAS is the first of its kind in the USA.

Are the judges getting paid for this?

All Judges have volunteered to create our 2020 panel.

Here is the full press release:

There are a slew of competitions to award beer on flavor – but there is no competition that recognizes the incredible (and important!) design and marketing efforts that brewers invest in their branding. Until now.

The Craft Beer Marketing Awards (CBMA) is proud to announce its first annual awards series.

The CBMAS were developed to recognize and award the very best marketing in the brewing industry across the nation. Breweries, their agencies, designers, and marketing partners are invited to enter their top work. The 2020 CBMAS includes over 30 categories that recognize all aspects of beer marketing. The Entry Deadline is January 31, 2020.

With over 7,300 breweries (and growing) across the country, it’s getting harder and harder to stand out from the other six packs on the over-crowded store shelf. In addition to having to nail a delicious and unique line of brews, design and marketing of each beer has become critical to a brewery’s popularity and success.

More than ever, breweries recognize the need to prioritize their marketing strategies,” said Prabh Hans, VP Business Development & Strategy for Hillebrand, CBMAs Presenting Sponsor. “We’ve worked closely with brewers since 1984 and know that shelves and cities are flooded with an overwhelming amount of craft beer options. The CBMAs team recognized how much time and money these breweries are now investing into branding efforts and created a one-of-a-kind opportunity to celebrate them. Hillebrand is proud to sponsor the first–ever Craft Beer Marketing Awards, a truly unique and important event for the craft beer industry as it continues to grow.”

In the past, small breweries could rely solely on positive word of mouth about their beers, but the past decade has been like a renaissance in craft beer marketing and branding. Beer packaging and design quickly became much more sophisticated, similar to that of the wine industry – and for good reason.

While many craft beer consumers seek out local brews, or prefer a certain style or ABV, many of today’s beer shoppers between the ages of 22 and 37 (Millennials) are making their final purchase decision based on a “cool label.” This is why a beer’s branding and packaging is the most effective means of influencing purchase at that decision-making moment. And to be recognized for those great efforts is now a reality.

In such a saturated market, craft beer drinkers are now – literally – looking at the shelves for what looks interesting. Eccentric ingredients are no longer an easy sell. They say, “don’t judge a beer by its label,” but 80% percent of consumers make their final purchase decision at the retail shelf, and 64 percent of this group admitted they would change their mind if “something better” caught their eye at that moment.

Who do brewers owe credit to when it comes to these eye-catching, decision-driving cans? Sure, they can tap themselves on the back for the flavor, but they need to give kudos to their designers – who essentially play the roles of their marketers. Designers give breweries the opportunity to share their stories and personalities outside of the taproom walls.

These designers are the ones who are not only bringing the beers to life by giving them major personalities; they are the storytellers who reach the drinkers. Each can label ignites a beer brand to the next level. It’s their job to make the 4- or 6-packs jump off the shelf and into the arms of the consumers. The branding reinforces the character of the brewery.

The importance of the right look and feel for each brew is just as important as the liquid gold inside – more so than ever before. Beer cans have become somewhat of a visual currency.

And don’t forget: In the world of social media, you want that “cool” can shot to stand out and for followers to want to go grab a pack. There are craft beer Instagram influencers who have thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of followers who are engaged just from the showcasing of great beer packaging. What does that say about the power of these designs?

One of the coolest parts about beer packaging is who brewers choose to collaborate with on their designs. Some hire famous comic book illustrators, well-known artists, and even cartoonists. These labels are not a fad. There is a love affair growing between the craft beer drinker, brewers, and artists. The “liquid art” is now supported by an entire story on a package. So, when do these unsung heroes of our industry start getting some real credit?

Branding in the craft beer industry is what truly brings the beer to life. Today, brewers can use strong visual identity, storytelling, word-of-mouth, and digital media to achieve never–before seen growth that has levelled the playing field between big and small beer. The packaging and overall branding of a beer is the most effective means of influencing purchase at that decision-making moment. CBMA felt the time had come to recognize the talent behind the creative nature that makes the craft beer culture so rich and unique.

“This is a great opportunity for designers like myself to show off some awesome work I’ve done for breweries,” said Ben Owens, founder of Phine Art Designs “I’ve never witnessed an industry with such fast growth and transformation. Craft beer is constantly evolving. So is the design, marketing, and packaging of it.”

The Craft Beer Marketing Awards feature categories that celebrate the very best of beer marketing and the teams, and individuals behind them. All categories are judged by an influential and respected panel of beer, marketing, and design experts from across the country. Check out the full panel of over 65 judges here.

The CBMAS judging process is a robust, credible, and transparent digital scoring. The 2020 CBMAS consist of over 30 categories which cover all aspects of brew marketing- from labels to logos; from tap handles to tap rooms. Entry is open to anyone involved in marketing within the brewing industry.

Some of the award categories are:

• Best Can

• Best Tap Handle Design

• Best Original Video

• Best Merchandise Design

• Best Use of Social Media

• Best Website Design

• Beer Marketing Wild-Cards, like Coolest Taproom

To see the full list of categories, click here.

CBMAS is excited to reveal its official trophy- “The Crushie”-for the series of awards, including the Platinum Crushie, the Gold Crushie, and the People’s Crushie. The CBMAS Crushie trophies were designed and manufactured by the same NYC designer awards firm that creates the prestigious Emmy Award, and MTV Moonman Statue. The Crushie award is sculptured to depict a heavily tattooed arm crushing a beer can representing how breweries are “crushing it” with their unique, and creative beer marketing and branding.

Entries are now being accepted on the CBMAS website. Early bird deadline has been extended to December 6th and the final entry period ends January 31, 2020. Breweries and their marketing teams can enter work from January 2018 through September 2019.

The judging process will begin February 13, 2020 and conclude on March 20, 2020, with the award winners announced on Monday, April 20, live from The Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) in San Antonio, TX.

There will be a small award ceremony that evening for those attending. Winners do not need to attend the conference to receive recognition.


The Craft Beer Marketing Awards was established in 2019 to give recognition to the best of the best in the marketing realm of the brewing industry. With categories that range from can design and to best tap room, and best website design to social media influencer of the year, there’s opportunity for every area of marketing in the brewing industry to showcase their work.

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