SILVER BULLETS by Robert J. Burgess


A Soldier's Story of How Coors Bombed in the Beer Wars
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 An alum's inept attempt to discredit an unusually inviting target: Adolph Coors Co. Burgess (Marketing/University of Denver) worked for the Colorado-based brewer (whose proprietors are notable for, among other matters, their high-profile support of politically incorrect causes) as a marketing research analyst from 1985 to 1988. Drawing mainly on his experiences in this comparatively low-level post, he offers what's apparently meant to be an antic account of a macho gang that couldn't shoot straight in its campaigns to best Budweiser, Miller, and other rivals in the so-called ``beer wars'' of the 1980's. Burgess's audit is also informed by a more serious purpose: to make the embattled but consistently profitable Coors a paradigm for the putative shortcomings of corporate America. But all too soon, the smart-alecky text falls flat between the twin peaks of the author's vaulting ambitions. Apart from a bent for gratuitously likening the strategy and tactics of Coors management to those of Nazi Germany's leaders, Burgess can't keep his story straight. The episodic narrative lurches back and forth in time, covering events before, during, and after his tenure without ever achieving focus or impact. While the author's points about the company's failure to develop viable new products have merit, for example, they're lost in a welter of ad hominem observations about associates or superiors identified largely by puerile nicknames- -``Captain Kangaroo,'' ``Mumbles,'' ``Preacher,'' ``Silver Fox,'' ``Valley Girl,'' et al. The same holds true for Burgess's personal involvement in efforts to probe the attitudes of blacks, gays, and other disaffected constituencies. The author seems far more interested in railing against the presumptive bigotry, conservatism, and homophobia of corporate executives than in exploring their willingness to adapt to commercial realities. Nor does he seem to have noticed that, though Coors is a nominally public enterprise, no investors other than founding-family members hold voting stock. A book that gives new meaning to the phrase ``beer bust.''

Pub Date: May 20th, 1993
ISBN: 0-312-09251-2
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1993