Sunday, 15 March 2009

On selling beer

Those of us living or working in London knew the recession was coming when tube station billboards started carrying the same ads for months and then, eventually, became bare. Ad spend is - crazily - seen by bean counters as discretionary in a downturn.

Last summer, a few weeks before Lehman's collapse revealed just how buggered we all were (and sewed up the US election for Barack Obama, thank god), Fuller's ran this ad campaign for their organic brew Honeydew (pictured).

A boring ad, I think all will agree. Far from being evident, it does nothing to demonstrate why people love Honeydew. A row of pints and a tagline about being the country's favourite organic beer is hardly going to stop traffic.

Compare, then, with this billboard directly next to it for Amstel.

Now I thought this was terrific, neatly encapsulating the social role of beer while at the same time using arresting imagery. No allusion to flavour or provenence; no 'since 1345'; no sweeping fields of barley. Lovely stuff.

I'm sure Heineken (which owns the Amstel brand) has far deeper pockets in terms of marketing than Fuller's. But I do think the comparison provides a good example of the lack of imagination demonstrated by some UK - and particularly cask - brewers.

Apologies to Fuller's - this campaign is hardly the most egregious example and, to be fair, I do think their London Pride cinema ad recently was terrific - voiceover by Michael Gambon, no less! For the record, I think Amstel is horrible with a weird metallic ting that ought not to be present in beer at all. A big fan of Fuller's, I've got to say I really dislike Honeydew - but then I've got a bit of a downer on honey in beer per se.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm really enjoying your blog.

Have you seen the ad for Young's-- it goes something like "it's what beer would drink..." What does it even mean?

It would be interesting to see if ads just get more cryptic and dull as the economy plummets.

I find Fullers beer kind of boring, with the exception of the London Porter, so their ad is spot on!