The email started out like this:

“Hi Justine,

I am writing to you today to introduce you to Ethel’s Brew (, created by my 80-year-old grandmother – the eponymous Ethel – who is a Williamsburg native and is launching a beer brand that had its inception in our basement…”

I clicked on the press link, and it took me to a page that listed a Kingsland Ave address – which is in Greenpoint and right down the block from Greenpointers HQ. The website was over the top with Peggy Bundy cheetah patterns, Queens-style hot pink nails, crazy Grandma bling and an overly styled old bag drinking beer alongside her “Ethelisms” funny quotations like: “Old friends are like old boobs, even if we’re far away, we’re still connected.” Too good to be true? Yes.

With a bunch videos, a facebook and twitter page, and an official website, Ethel’s Grandson/PR Manager Seth Goldschmidt, ended with, “Let me know if you have any questions about the beer itself.”

Yes! I am right down the block, let’s have a tasting. At first I received an auto-reply, then “Thanks! We’ve got tastings in France next week so I’ll keep you posted on NY dates! Bottle designs are attached in the meanwhile to tempt you.”

The proof is in the pudding. No matter how great a marketing campaign, unless I get a real response from a real person and I try real product then, I won’t waste my time on a review.

I found out via FREEWilliamsburg that the whole thing was a stunt.

According to PR Newsire: “While the beer was positioned and marketed as the product of an eccentric elderly woman in Brooklyn, the brand and Ethel character were in fact the brainchild of Amir Kassaei, DDB Worldwide’s Chief Creative Officer, and his creative team…Buzz on websites and in social media throughout the week established the brand’s image with thousands of mentions in blogs, articles and social media about the “Ethel” character and the brew.”

The beer was actually made via a third party brewery and served to bars and restaurants during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Gothamist said that the campaign was “created essentially to tout the company’s expertise at successfully being able to make shit up.”

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