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The above chart is inspired by various conversations with and emails from public relations and marketing people in the last few months, many of whom seem to be struggling manfully to sell shite beer. Future version will no doubt be bigger and more complex… suggestions welcome.
Phase one of the new Carling campaign was bad enough. But in phase two, the ad men have reached a new low. Get a load of this from the voiceover:
“Carling know it’s important to check their barley themselves.”
A few questions spring to mind:
- What is “checking” barley?
- Is “checked” barley better than any other? As in, “Yeah, I checked the barley — it’s absolutely awful, but we got it cheap.”
- They know it’s important, but does that even mean they do it? Whatever it is.
So, here’s our proposed slogan for phase three:
“Carling know that beer is supposed to taste nice.”
Meantime seem to have convinced pubs all over London to take what we’re assuming is a kegged London Pale Ale. Its green badge has been appearing on big tacky chrome fonts all over the city in the last few weeks, following a successful launch as a bottled beer in some supermarkets earlier this year.
We’ve always been fans of Meantime’s range and haven’t even minded that they don’t, on the whole, bother with cask conditioning at their pub in Greenwich, because their beer simply tastes so nice. But this keg product breaking out into the wild could be a problem: people who run trendy bars and gastropubs are likely to give up on cask ale altogether if they’ve got a decent-tasting, nicely marketed keg alternative.
Then again, have we perhaps moved to a point where the method of dispense, all though a good rule of thumb when it comes to quality, isn’t the be all and end all? There are some very boring cask conditioned ales that, although ideologically sound, taste much worse than some of Meantime’s kegged products.
Is it kegged as we’re assuming? Has anyone tried it? Is it the same beer that’s sold at the Union as Pale Ale, latterly known as “Late Hopped Blonde’? If you have any information, the Kilroy production team would like to hear from you.
According to advertising trade mag Marketing Week, sales of the top beer brands are down 5 per cent up to April 2008.
The biggest drops are in sales of Kronenbourg 1664, Stella Artois, Carlsberg Export and Grolsch. Sales of John Smith’s Extra Smooth and Carlsberg (ordinary) are up.
Their say that the current ‘drink-aware climate’ and England’s absence from the European Championship are the main reasons.
The first certainly sounds plausible to us. People we know seem to be much happier ordering a shandy or a ‘weak beer’ than they were a couple of years ago.
And, of course, there’s been a huge defection to cider from beer, as witnessed by booming sales of Strongbow.
- A slick CGI image from the weasely new Stella ad
The geniuses behind Stella Artois really are trying to convince us of the historical worth of their brew. A new advertising campaign on the telly makes lots of intriguing references to “1366”, obviously designed to suggest that this is when the beer originated.
A bit of digging around their website makes it clear that a brewery existed in Leuven in 1366… Apparently, thanks to the “courage” of some medieval monks, Stella Artois exists today. Er… If you dig around on their website, it’s quite clear that whatever happened in Leuven in 1366 has sweet Fanny Adams to do with Stella Artois.
The funny thing is that they keep making reference to the “four ingredients”. But which four? Is this the barley, hops, maize and water proudly boasted of in their billboards? If you go into their site, they have five (not four) mini-films to illustrate different “challenges” of brewing. Hops, water and barley get a mention, as does yeast (unlike in the billboards). The fifth challenge of brewing has nothing to do with making the beer, but is to do with exporting it.
Oddly, maize isn’t mentioned in these adverts. But it would be a bit tricky to square with this historical heritage angle, given it originated in Mesoamerica and therefore would have been unknown to the good burghers of Brabant in 1366.
I’m sorry, but this kind of mock historical bollocks really, really gets on my tits. Fortunately, the campaign is way too inconsistent to fool anyone.
NB – we’ve not linked to any of the Stella pages so as not to increase their presence on the interweb. You can find it for yourself if you have nothing better to do. But you really ought to have something better to do.
UPDATE 17/08/08: image added.