There can be no more unlikely – or loveable – brand ambassador in the world. Meet Rocky the Northern Rockhopper penguin, a rescued waif of a seabird who lives at SANCCOB, and who garners attention from every visitor. She, and yes, Rocky is a ‘she’, was caught in the fishing nets of a trawler, and was fortunate enough to be brought to SANCCOB for rehabilitation. Rocky is a long way from her preferred subantarctic waters of the Indian Ocean, so she is a permanent resident. SANCCOB – in full the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds – is a 24-hour seabird rescue centre, and they respond to all seabirds in distress, performing an invaluable conservation service in oceans that are rife with oil spills and other dangers for the natural inhabitants.
But Rocky the brand ambassador? Boston Breweries, one of the Cape’s longest standing and most prestigious craft breweries have coincidentally just launched Rock Hoppa beer, their latest addition to a series of great craft beers. Chris Barnard, Managing Director of Boston Breweries, is a man of the sea. Sea swimming is his true passion, and he has numerous Robben Island swims to his credit, including the almost unbelievable pioneering feat of completing the swim employing only butterfly stroke. The local penguins would have been impressed. Chris admits that Rock Hoppa beer was named initially for the strong hops presence in the brew, but he quickly realised that his love for nature, the sea, and his beer had a great synergy: enter SANCCOB, Rocky and a great partnership.
SANCCOB is an internationally recognised seabird conservation organisation, responsive to seabird rescue and rehabilitation along the southern African coastline. Their unremitting efforts to rescue stricken birds and release them in their natural environment gets publicity during oil spill crises, but what is not often realised by the public is that SANCCOB are continually rescuing birds and penguins, and they are dependent on that public for ongoing funding. Boston Breweries, Chris Barnard and Rock Hoppa craft beer have come up with one solution. Chris has decided that for every bottle of delicious, hoppy, Rock Hoppa beer sold, R1 (yes, one Rand) will be given to SANCCOB. Chris and Jacqui Barlow, marketing manager of Boston Breweries made a pilgrimage to SANCCOB to present the idea, met Rocky, fell in love, and a unique brand ambassador was born.
Does the idea of a conservationist organisation gel with a brewery product? “Absolutely!” says Chris. “Craft beer brewing is seen as a return to the high standards of the past. There is a general swing towards supporting classical crafts in many consumer areas. Craft beers have taken off substantially over the past eight years, and continue to expand.” But alcohol and sea life? “Beer has been a staple beverage – and, indeed, foodstuff – for millennia. We craft beers to meet tastes, not to supply quick fix drinking solutions. Our clients see craft beer in the same light as oenophiles approach wine tasting and appreciation: there is a craft beer to suit every palate, and moderation is the key to understanding the subtlety and perfection of a true beer.”
Rock Hoppa beer will be available in a wide range of establishments and outlets, and a sticker on each bottle will advise those about to enjoy the contents that SANCCOB will be benefitting. “Rocky is not only a brand ambassador for Boston Breweries,” says Jacqui. “As the sole Rockhopper penguin at SANCCOB, she speaks for all the African Penguins and seabirds that are rehabilitated at their premises. It’s an important function for one small lass, but she has the courage and strength to represent her extended family!”