Greg interviews Chris from Hobgoblin (2015)
Q.Hobgoblin already has links with Bloodstock through sponsoring the festival’s Metal 2 The Masses initiative which seeks to support upcoming bands. Paul Gregory recently designed several t-shirts for Hobgoblin – was this a natural extension of the existing relationship?
“We now have an association with Paul and Bloodstock and if you think about the Hobgoblin brand, the beer, and the association with music – which works particularly well with Bloodstock – it all ties together with Paul’s artwork. So we thought it would be a great idea if we could use his skills and talents to generate something that links it all. Our Hobgoblin consumer, the drinker, loves Hobgoblin, but they also love the music, so it just seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.”
Q. How important is merchandising to the Hobgoblin brand?
“The merchandise is extremely important, particularly in the UK. Each year we probably ship out around 20,000 t-shirts. For a company that focusses on beer and the quality of our products, merchandise came along as a secondary thing. But we have all these fans walking around in our t-shirts and if you look at the prices we charge, we’re not making much money there. It’s just grown and grown probably over the last ten years. It brilliant because it’s our fans, our beer consumers telling us they want to be part of it. They’re identifying with Hobgoblin and wearing it as a badge of honour.”
Q. The distinctiveness of Hobgoblin also appears to extend to the merchandise itself.
“We get so many fans telling us the sort of things we should be making, and the things they want aren’t the normal things you’d expect from a brewery. Most breweries will do bottle openers, drip mats, bar runners – and t-shirts of course – but our guys seem to want something slightly different. Believe it or not, we do things like slippers. It may sound daft for our brand, but people go home at night, they want to drink a Hobgoblin and put their slippers on – why shouldn’t it be a pair of Hobgoblin slippers? The one thing about Hobgoblin is that there’s huge loyalty about it. For the hardcore fans, it’s part of their life, and I think the ultimate expression of that is when someone tattoos themselves with the Hobgoblin. We get lots of people sending in photos, and how do you say thank you for that? We say ‘shall we send them beer or a t-shirt?’ and it doesn’t really seem to do it justice.”
Q. Hobgoblin have formed a unique partnership with Bloodstock – what made you want to be part of it?
“With Hobgoblin and us as individuals, we are supportive of the roots of music. It links back to Metal 2 The Masses and finding those new bands that need support, and we want to play a part in that. We don’t want any part of a mainstream X-Factor-type thing because that’s not us. The guys at Bloodstock are passionate about what they do and it’s infectious. When we met Paul and saw his artwork, his enthusiasm was infectious. Sometimes, it might work for people commercially to be involved in it, but where it works with the guys at Bloodstock is how their enthusiasm dragged us into it, and I used the word ‘dragged’ nicely!”
Q. For you, what sets Bloodstock apart?
“The Bloodstock festival audience are the most loyal festival audience I’ve ever come across. The last five years we’ve seen people come into our bar and we’ll recognize them, but it’s not just because of the audience that it works for us. We work with lots of different elements of the music world and there are some great people out there, but Bloodstock is the most organized festival we’re ever involved in. We turn up and there’s no fuss, no hassle, everything’s top notch and arranged perfectly. When the consumer comes to the bar they get served a top notch pint quickly and that’s how it’s meant to be. That can’t be said of every festival.”