Brewbound Podcast: FIFCO USA’s Josh Halpern on Embracing Being a Big-Small Company, Co-Creating Brands with Reality Stars and more

FIFCO USA has undergone a lot of changes since its national sales meeting in Philadelphia last October.

The company formerly known as North American Breweries — whose portfolio includes the Labatt, Genesee, Imperial, Honey Brown, Magic Hat, Pyramid and Portland Brewing beer brands, as well as offerings such as beyond beer offerings Seagram’s Escapes, Seagram’s Spiked, Hemptails and Fun Wine — named a new CEO (Rich Andrews) in December and a new CMO (Piotr Jurjewicz) earlier this month.

The company has also pivoted away from its Pura Still spiked still water offering, redirecting its resources to the popular Seagram’s Escapes brand.

A constant for FIFCO though has been chief sales officer Josh Halpern, who took center stage during the national sales meeting, starring in several skits with reality TV stars such as Chris Harrison and Cynthia Bailey, Philadelphia Phillies mascot the Philly Phanatic, and U.S. Olympic gold medal soccer player Carli Lloyd, as well as spoofs of Rocky and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

According to Halpern, doing so allows wholesalers, who are working with upwards of 70 suppliers these days, to see who he is.

“This is such a people driven business,” he explained. “I started my career at A-B, and we used to say, ‘Making friends is our business,’ right? So I just want our wholesalers to feel comfortable with who I am as a person, and I’m not afraid to show my personality.”

To Halpern, putting himself out there shows FIFCO’s wholesalers that its execs don’t take themselves too seriously, but do take the business seriously.

In Episode 6 of the Brewbound Podcast’s third season, Halpern explains how FIFCO USA came to embrace being a big-small brewery, how that leads to co-creating brands with reality TV stars and why ceding some creative control to popular platforms such as Barstool Sports to build brand equity is necessary.

“Part of that ‘Biggie Smalls’ mentality … is saying we need to give up a little bit of our ownership on the brand creative content side, make sure there’s guardrails in place and whatnot, but trust people like Barstool Sports, who have done really amazing things in the last five to 10 years, to help grow our brand equity for us and with us as well,” he said. “When you’re a company of our size, you need to relinquish a little bit of control, while at the same time have the right guardrails in place to make sure you’re very much in ownership of your brand.”

Listen to the latest episode above, or find it on popular platforms such as iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and Spotify. New episodes of the Brewbound Podcast are published Thursdays.

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