SATIRICAL internet sensation The Betoota Advocate may have hit pay-dirt after launching sales of their own-branded beer online today saw the first round of orders sold-out in just 12 minutes.
And in classic Betoota tongue-in-cheek style, one of the comedic website’s two chief contributors - the understated Errol Parker - has refused to confirm or deny whether Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was holding a Betoota Bitter when he was photographed watching an AFL game at the SCG on the weekend, while also holding his baby granddaughter, causing an internet uproar.
Asked if Mr Turnbull’s was in possession of a Betoota beer in the candid football scene, and if there was any coincidental link between the social media controversy and today’s successful online sales launch, Mr Parker was non-committal.
“I wouldn’t say it was mate but I probably wouldn’t stop you from writing that, if you wanted to,” he said.
But Mr Parker said he and his Betoota partner in crime Clancy Overall met with Mr Turnbull recently to discuss life beyond the city limits and the political universe where they shared one of the Betoota beers which sold like hot cakes today.
“We did have a few beers with the Prime Minister down in Sydney a few weeks back and he seemed to like it and he’d enjoy it,” he said of the beer.
“And we spoke to our local member, David Littlproud when he came up for the Quilpie races and we had a few beers with him and he was inclined to try and get it into the bar at Parliament House.”
When quizzed about his experience of meeting the Betoota Advocate’s gun reporters, Mr Turnbull said “they are characters those young blokes”.
“I mean you know the story that Betoota is a place that basically has still got a pub but I’m not even sure there is anyone at the pub anymore,” he said.
“It was one bloke living at the pub, but it is essentially a town that has effectively been depopulated so it isn’t exactly a thriving metropolis.
“It’s a very satirical exercise but what they did was - and you’d probably notice - the beers moved and it appeared that I was drinking a schooner every few minutes.
“What the guys were doing was almost by sleight of hand moving the beer glasses around in front of me.
“So every time a camera cut to it, it looked as though I had had another schooner.”
Mr Parker said what Mr Turnbull did at the AFL match on the weekend with a beer in one hand and baby in the other, igniting a typical over-reactive social media stir, was “fine”.
“It’s just a bloke holding his granddaughter and watching some sport,” he said.
“The outrage train is hot behind Malcolm now because he’s been seen holding a baby and holding a beer and watching the Swans flog the Bombers.
“Those people need to get a (expletive deleted) life.
“It’s a hard climate to try and impress everyone but we aren’t ones to shy away from outrage which is part and parcel of being in the media.”
Mr Turnbull also spoke about the AFL beer incident today in a radio interview with Collingwood President and media personality Eddie McGuire, saying the reaction to the photograph was all about the “craziness of social media”.
“I think you’ve just got to be yourself Eddie,” Mr Turnbull said.
“As long as you’re comfortable in your own skin and you’re just being yourself, being natural, I think that’s all you can do.
“You end up being as crazy as some of the trolls on Twitter, if you do anything else.”
As well as Mr Turnbull, the Betoota Advocate boys have interviewed and produced satirical articles or videos online featuring leading rural politicians like Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and his political nemesis Tony Windsor.
The online service portrays itself as the nation’s oldest and most popular newspaper, based in what’s really a ghost town named Betoota way out in central-west Queensland.
They’ve ignited laughter with tongue in cheek articles featuring headlines like “Kim Jong-un saves North Korean innings with top score of 807 not out” and “Barnaby Joyce Thrown Out Of Mooseheads For Dropping Pants During Eagle Rock”.
They move fast to capture the internet pulse on topical issues like Mr Joyce’s NZ dual citizenship scandal with articles like “Barnaby Joyce Spotted Drinking Tui Long Necks Out Of A Wooden Crate In Logan Pub”.
And at times it’s a major challenge for some readers to differentiate between the fictional world of their comedic forays into rural politics and other topics and what may well be a factual report or issue.
But their venture into the world of beer-selling represents a more serious matter and one that’s typical of their larrikin brand featuring a rugged, boyish Aussie country identity.
Betoota Advocate publisher Piers Grove said a post on the Betoota Facebook page today alerted its followers – close to 370,000 – that Betoota Bitter was available online.
“Well, the day is finally here - Betoota Bitter tins are now available nationwide,” the post said.
However, Mr Grove said within 12 minutes, 5000 cans, or 200 cases, were sold.
Mr Parker said the online beer selling launch was aimed at diversification to try to generate critical revenue for survival in the tough and internet dominated modern media market-place.
“It’s a bit aggressive to have a pay wall so we thought we’d have a beer wall,” he said of The Betoota Advocate service.
“We’ve just put the beer into cans for the first time in generations.
“We’ve made the beer more portable so every Australian has the opportunity to enjoy it and not just those lucky enough to live near a licensed establishment that sells our beer on taps like the Betoota Hotel and the Dolphins’ Leagues Club.
“It’s available at those sorts of bottle shops but we do need to strike up a deal with a national distributor to get it into places like Dan Murphy’s or BWS.
“This is a solution we could do nice and quickly and it’s pretty painless.
“You just go online and it turns up on your door step the next day or in a few days, depending on where you live.”
Mr Parker said to stay afloat, and generate income, as a start-up rural focussed business, “you’ve got to find a creative way to engage with your audience”.
As for the actual Betoota Bitter, he said it was “a good honest beer”.
“It isn’t like your craft pale ales that taste like a flower - it’s a beer you can start on and it’s a beer you can finish on,” he said.
“It’s available online initially and we’re looking to expand through a national distributor and we’ll go from there.
“You can get it on BoozeBud which will send the carton anywhere in Australia so long as you have an Australian postcode.”
Mr Parker said it had been a tough gig trying to gain any political endorsement for the new beer product - but Queensland independent MP Bob Katter was a “fan” and their local member, for Maranoa, Nationals MP David Littleproud agrees it’s a good drop.
“Everyone is under a cloud now so they’re keeping their heads down but we do know Bob Katter is a fan of it,” Mr Parker said of the beer.