Categories
marketing pubs

FAQ: Which brands would have been on sale in a 1960s pub?

“Which brands would have been available in an ordinary English pub of the 1950s or 1960s, including spirits and wines?” – paraphrased from correspondence

To answer this, let’s pick a year; and let’s make that year 1965 because we’ve got a good reference to hand: James H. Coombs’ Bar Service: careers behind the bar – volume one.

We’ve written about this little volume before. First, there was a post about its advice on beer. Then there was a companion piece with some nuggets on pub life.

The bit we’re going to look at today, though, is arguably the most boring section in which Mr Coombs provides a long list of the types and variety of booze a good pub ought to carry.

Here’s the raw information from those, oof, twelve chapters. We’ve only included items where a brand name was mentioned, plus a couple of example of beers where ‘brewery’s own’ would be the brand.

Bottled beersBrand
Pale ale (light ale)Brewery’s own
Brown aleBrewery’s own
Double DiamondInd Coope
John Courage (JC)Courage
Red BarrelWatney Mann
Ben Truman (Ben)Truman
Barley WineBrewery’s own
IPAWorthington
Colne Spring AleBenskins (Ind Coope)
White Shield (natural beer’)Worthington
Bass (Red Shield – ‘natural beer’)Bass
Green Shield (pasteurised)Worthington
Bass (Blue Triangle – pasteurised)Bass
LagerCarlsberg
LagerTuborg
LagerHolston
LagerLöwenbräu
LagerOranjeboom
LagerHeineken
SKOLInd Coope
Black LabelCarling
GuinnessHarp
Mackeson (milk stout)Mackeson (Whitbread)
Guinness Extra StoutGuinness
Russian StoutBarclay’s (Courage)
Draught beers (cask)Brand
Mild ale (XX)Brewery’s own
BitterBrewery’s own
BassBass
EWorthington
Draught beers (keg)Brand
Red BarrelWatney Mann
Red HandInd Coope
TobyCharrington
FlowersFlowers (Whitbread)
TankardWhitbread
TavernCourage
BassBass
EWorthington
CiderBrand
Apple Vintage WineMerrydown
Babycham (sweet)Showerings
Babycham (dry)Showerings
Baby BubblyGoldwell
Pink LadyGoldwell
Soft drinks and mixersBrand
Coca-ColaCoca-Cola
Pepsi-ColaPepsi
7-Up7-Up
Perrier WaterPerrier
Vichy WaterVarious
Apollinaris (water)Apollinaris
Hunyadi-Janos (water)n/a
Contrexeville (water)Perrier
Evian (water)Evian
Malvern (water)Schweppes
Buxton (water)Buxton Mineral Water Co.
Springwell (water)n/a
WinesBrand
Tio Pepe (sherry)González Byass
Dry Fly (sherry)Imported by Findlater Mackie Todd
Double Century (sherry)Pedro Domecq
Celebration Cream (sherry)Pedro Domecq
Bristol Cream (sherry)Harvey’s
Bristol Milk (sherry)Harvey’s
Bristol Dry (sherry)Harvey’s
Various sherriesWiliams and Humbert
Carlito (sherry)Wiliams and Humbert
Dry Sack (sherry)Wiliams and Humbert
Canasta Cream (sherry)Wiliams and Humbert
Walnut Brown (sherry)Wiliams and Humbert
Various sherriesVarela
PortCroft, Dow, Fonseca, Cockburn, Sandeman, Warre, Rebello Valente, Taylor, etc.
Porto BrancoSandeman’s
ChampagneAyala, Bollinger, Clicquot, Goulet, Heidsieck, Pol Roger, Moet, etc.
Ginger WineStone’s
VermouthMartini
VermouthNoilly Prat
VermouthCinzano
SpiritsBrand
“Straw-tinted” ginBooth’s
Gin (Geneva)Holland’s
GinPlymouth
London Dry GinSquires
London Dry GinCornhill
Fruit cupPimm’s
Caroni RumTate & Lyle
Lemon Hart RumUnited Rum Merchants
Lamb’s Navy RumUnited Rum Merchants
Daiquiri RumUnited Rum Merchants
Ron BacardiBacardi
Various brandiesMartell, Hennessy, Otard, Courvoisier, Remy Martin, etc.
Bitters and aperitifsBrand
BittersAngostura
BittersUnderberg
Fernet-BrancaFratelli Branca
DubonnetDubonnet
Pernod 45Pernod
AmerPicon

Now, clearly, you wouldn’t find all of these in every pub but, per the original query, if you included these brands as dressing for a film set in 1965, they’d probably look appropriate.

So, that’s the boring list. What about other, sexier sources? Advertising from the period, for example…

Stone's Green Ginger Wine
SOURCE: Brewery Manual 1966.
Hi! Heineken.
SOURCE: Brewery Manual 1966.
Varela sherry
SOURCE: Brewery Manual 1966.

…or beer mats…

A selection of beer mats from around the 1960s.
Some beer mats from our collection from the 1960s and 70s.

… or old photos.

The bar of a pub.
The Crown Hotel, Hadleigh, 1965. SOURCE: Hadleigh and Thundersleigh Community Archive.

In the above pic, also from 1965, we can’t make out many brands but we’ve definitely got Watney’s Red Barrel, Double Diamond and something not on Mr Coombs’s list, Tia Maria.

Categories
marketing opinion

Startups and the runway to buy-out

Some businesses are founded with the intention of being sold for big money in five, six or seven years’ time. How can you spot them?

This isn’t a post about a specific brewery – though clearly Cloudwater has been on our minds this week. Perhaps our observations don’t apply generally. And maybe they don’t apply in brewing at all. But let’s have them out anyway.

We’ve both ended up with day jobs where we’ve been working with or on behalf of a number of startups recently. They’ve been across a range of businesses including food production, professional services and technology.

What we’ve noticed is that, despite the range of sectors and business models, they all have certain characteristics in common.

Six tell-tale signs

First, they tend to have a c.5-year business plan which acknowledges the business may not make a profit for several years, if ever.

Secondly, they have external funding from private sources – either founders and family, or venture capitalists. Funding from the latter is usually raised in multiple stages with late funding being dependent on hitting certain targets relating to sales, number of customers, market share and so on.

When late-stage startups make surprising decisions, this may well be what’s driving it.

Thirdly, they put sales to the fore. While it’s nice for them to be able to show that eventually the business will be profitable, the sales-growth trajectory is more important.

Consequently (item four) marketing will be conspicuously important to the business early on. There will be highly sophisticated marketing collateral from an early point in the business’s life, such as a cutting-edge website, a full suite of professionally-designed brand assets and a strong social media presence. It’s not unusual for these companies to have permanent marketing staff before they have an in-house finance team, or even their own manufacturing capability. 

Underlying all that there will be (five) a remarkably clear brand position and proposition, often focusing on an exaggerated difference between their product and established competitors. This is the essence of ‘disruption’ – at last someone is going to do this properly, cut through the bullshit and show the complacent dinosaurs what’s what!

This isn’t to say the product isn’t important. You certainly have to believe in it and be able to talk about it with convincing passion for several years. So, six, there will probably be a focus on new product development and heavy investment in it, at least in the early years.

What’s the endgame?

The final goal for this type of startup is usually a buyout of some description, in a set period of time – often five years.

Even if the founders want to stay in the business after that, they need to repay capital to early investors, so there’s always a ticking clock built in.

In the final stretch, you’ll often see a flurry of activity as they seek to maximise the value of the brand and of the company, which is what we were getting at when we last tackled this topic back in 2018:

There might be surprising partnerships with ‘evil’ companies; there may be contracts to supply supermarkets; or plans to have beer produced under contract, with more or less transparency… This kind of thing usually comes with a rush of blurb explaining how, actually, this way is even crafter because it widens access to the product, challenges the status quo, and so on, and so forth… The tying off of loose ends is another thing to watch out for, e.g. the sudden settling of legal disputes… The emergence of a dominant beer in the portfolio might be the biggest red flag of all.

The thing is, these companies will rarely, if ever, admit to their customers that the endgame is to sell it. After all, it’s a bit awkward when your marketing messages are all about what makes you distinct, different and superior.

That, we think, is why buyouts always seem to land as a massive surprise to customers and suppliers.

Contrary to what you might hear, people get just as narky about independence in other sectors as they do in beer. For example, we’ve both observed surprise and fury among boutique software users when products they love are bought out by a much bigger competitor. “I chose Quirple specifically because I liked their different approach and didn’t want to work with X-Corp,” they say, “and now I’m an X-Corp customer whether I like it or not? Quentin has betrayed me!”

It’s also worth saying that many businesses of this type never make it past the early stages. There is a high rate of failure with startups and even industry experts may never have heard of the ones that didn’t work out, or will forget them quickly.

What’s the alternative?

What does a growing business look like if it wasn’t built with that planned five-year-on payday in mind? Well, these businesses can still be successful, and still sell for big money, but their growth will tend to be organic, showing…

  • Lumpy sales growth and production – growing in fits and starts instead of on a smooth curve. 
  • A reluctance to invest in slightly intangible things like marketing because it all hits the bottom line.
  • A tendency to be behind the curve with new technology and production methods – they want to see it works before they invest hard-earned cash reserves.

As we said at the start, this isn’t really a post about breweries. We don’t work with breweries and it’s possible that not a single brewery has ever been founded as a startup with the aim of eventually selling to a larger competitor.

Perhaps every single one of those success stories (“Wow, great work guys, and well deserved!”) is a genuine surprise to the founders.

But it seems pretty unlikely, doesn’t it?

Categories
marketing

More breweries = dafter beer names

Drinking our way through a selection of canned craft beers, we’ve caught ourselves rolling our eyes at the long, strange, often pun-laden names.

And we’re not the only ones, either.

What we’d never asked ourselves before is… why? We reckon the answer lies with the proliferation of breweries in the past 30 or so years.

A hundred years ago, most beers had exciting, distinctive names like ‘mild’, ‘bitter’ or ‘X’.

Then, in the mid-20th century, national brands emerged with snappy names such as Red Barrel or Double Diamond.

Next, the CAMRA-led real ale revolution kicked off, and brewery numbers began to climb in the 1970s and 1980s. These breweries were, in their own way, also national brands, competing for space at beer festivals and in specialist real ale pubs up and down the country.

Premium bottled ales (PBAs) also came along, filling supermarket and off licence shelves.

In this phase, beers with distinctive names such as Summer Lightning, Old Nick or Spitfire had a clear advantage.

Ale ticking culture must also have had an effect. Breweries with ranges of three, five or maybe seven beers are one thing; when you’re producing a new beer every month, or every week, you’re obliged to get creative. Or resort to crude puns.

Jump forward a couple of decades and instead of a few hundred breweries, we’ve got more than 2,000. And that culture of guest ales has morphed into a need for a constant flow of novel, Instagram-friendly products for keg, bottle or can.

The scramble for unique web addresses during the dot com boom led to companies with names like Accenture, Consignia and Moonpig.com. In much the same way, a crowded beer market inevitably calls for Experiments in Evil, Big Raspberry Dog Chew and Grainsley Harriot.

Plus, of course, it’s fun – another outlet for creativity in a subsector that prizes that over blazer-wearing conformity.

Categories
featuredposts marketing

His Master’s Stout?

We all know Nipper, the HMV dog, forever captured with his snout down a gramophone trumpet – but did you know he also advertised beer?

Nipper was born in Bristol in 1884 and died in 1895. His first owner was Mark Barraud, a theatre scenery designer; his second was Francis Barraud, a painter, who immortalised him in the image we all know today.

But on another occasion, Nipper was painted investigating not a gramophone but a glass of stout – and that image was famous, too, in its day.

As always, piecing together chronologies is difficult, but what we think happened is that Nipper became an early example of a meme.

First, in around 1900, Nipper became the trademark of the His Master’s Voice and Victor gramophone companies.

Then, at some point in the following decade, Watney, Combe, Reid & Co. (hereafter just Watney’s) came up with the slogan ‘What is it master likes so much?’ From bits we’ve been able to piece together, we think this was supposed to be in the voice of a household maid, purchasing bottled beer on behalf of the man of the house.

Then, in around 1910, Watney’s bought, or more likely commissioned, two paintings from Barraud, mashing up the HMV trademark with their slogan to create this campaign:

A dog sniffing a glass of stout.
SOURCE: Watney’s/American Radio History.

A dog slinking away from spilled stout.
SOURCE: Watney’s/American Radio History.

This campaign apparently ran for months with posters up all around London, on trams, and on tram and bus tickets, and seeped into the national consciousness.

One national newspaper felt justified in saying in 1914 that Watney’s was primarily ‘familiar to the man in the street by that famous poster, What is it Master likes so much, which is undoubtedly one of the most successful pictorial advertisements on record.’ (Globe, 27/02/1914.)

We doubted that at first until we discovered the music hall song and this account of a particularly weird-sounding theatrical performance at a village not far from Land’s End in 1910, as reported by the Cornishman:

On Saturday a very successful entertainment was given at Cliff House, Lamorna, by kind permission of Mr and Mrs Jory, in aid of the Buryan District Nursing Society. The principle feature of the entertainment, which was organised by Mrs Alfred Sidgwick, was a most artistic series of living pictures designed and arranged by Miss Barker of London… The second picture, ‘What is it master likes so much?’ suggested by a well-known poster, had a clever fox-terrier, Jimmie, as its central figure, investigating his absent master’s luncheon table. Jimmie proved himself an actor of rare gifts of facial expression, and greatly amused his audience…

There were lots of parodies and pastiches of Barraud’s Nipper paintings, including this by Philip Baynes from the Bystander for 14 February 1912, which brilliantly highlights the oddity of having the same dog advertising two quite distinct products:

A dog in a smashed gramophone.
‘I still don’t know what it is master likes so much – or am I the wrong dog?’

For all Watney’s seemed proud of these early forays into modern advertising, when the Red Barrel and What We Want is Watney’s came along between the wars, Nipper got sent to the pound.

The campaign is mentioned in both official company histories, from 1949 and 1963 respectively, but only in passing.

If you know more about this campaign, do comment below.

Categories
Beer history marketing

Beer: liquid sex, or substitute for soup?

William Schlackman was an American psychologist specialising in attention grabbing market research projects carried out on behalf of big companies. In 1966 he suggested that, for English drinkers, beer was a substitute for sex.

We’ve struggled to track down a copy of the research report itself which is, uh, frustrating, but there’s a summary of its contents in A Monthly Bulletin for January 1967:

At the superficial Freudian level of the unconscious mind, beer-drinking was found, incredibly, to be equated with sex. More profound research revealed this equation with sex to be but a defence enabling the beer-drinker to deny his true motivation… Hunger, the psychologists pointed out, is strong enough in primitive man to stimulate the hunt and the kill. In primitive man, in other words, hunger is overtly a more powerful drive than sex… It comes as a surprise to most of us to learn from the leader of the brewery’s research team, William Schlackman, an American doctor, that what a beer-drinker feels when opening time approaches “is the primitive tension of the hunt.” In civilised man, as in primitive man, “it may outweigh the sex drive.”

The Daily Mirror also picked up the story, quoting Schlackman extensively. Here’s a clearer explanation of his point about beer and sex, in his own words:

The regular drinker puts his love life secondary to his pub life, which is the real reason why so many marriages founder over drink… Confirmed drinkers are rarely womanisers. In fact, they are often hostile to women and to pubs that encourage women’s custom.

So beer displaces sex – got it.

The Mirror article also picks up on a suggestion by Schlackman that the particularly British taste for “tepid” ale rather than cold lager was because…

Beer, which traditionally even schoolboys used to drink for breakfast, subconsciously bears an image very close to that of soup.

Schlackman’s research team came up with a set of personality types matched to beer preference:

The typical draught-bitter drinker was a farm worker on his way home from the plough-field… The mild-and-bitter drinker: A 50-year-old underpaid clerk, dreaming of winning the pools… The Bass and Worthington drinker: A hairy-chested docker… One of the interviewed people though that the typical Bass drinker would probably be a wife-beater, too.

That’s one of those startling statements that makes clear just how much the perception of brands and types of beer can change over the course of decades.

Of course, this should all be taken with a pinch of salt: this kind of pop Freudian analysis has rather gone out of fashion. In 1969, Schlackman suggested that English people liked tea because it reminded them of home, mother and the womb, which says it all, really.

You can read more about William Schlackman and how he ended up living and working in London this obituary – he died in May at the age of 88.