Courage Beer attempted to break the stranglehold Carlton & United had on the beer market in Victoria with its launch on October 10, 1968.
Courage introduced a range of brands and undertook a massive marketing and promotions campaign in Victorian pubs, television screens, newspapers and radio.
There’s an old saying, that any publicity is good publicity, and this probably rang true in a promotion at the Richmond Club Hotel when topless barmaids served-up the new beer to customers just five days after its Melbourne launch in 1968. The Canberra Times reported on October 15, 1968:
MELBOURNE, Monday. — Two dancers who served the new Courage beer to patrons at a Richmond hotel while naked to the waist on Friday night would be charged with indecent behaviour, the Chief Commissioner of Police, Mr Arnold, said today. Mr Arnold said he had studied reports of detectives who had visited the hotel. Mr Arnold said he had also instructed police to oppose the renewal of the licence of the hotel, the Richmond Club Hotel, when it comes before the Licensing Court.
The first Courage beer was a lager and was popular at first with Victorian drinkers. However, the enthusiasm didn’t last. Gradually, drinkers returned to their old CUB favourites.
Until the 1980s, Australian drinkers were fiercely loyal to their state’s beer brands. The failure of Courage in Victoria, despite an eventual take-over by Tooths brewery in 1978, was largely due to ‘tied pubs’, which meant Carlton & United controlled much of the distribution chain in Victoria.
Established in 1887, the Richmond Club Hotel survived the police threats to have it closed because of the topless barmaids and continues to trade in Swan Street Richmond.
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