Sunday, 30 June 2013

Let there be squabbling

Britain’s major brewers, with the backing of CAMRA, are planning to launch a generic advertising campaign entitled Let There Be Beer. Its aims are to raise the profile of drinking beer on all kinds of different occasions, and to urge people who are not regular beer drinkers to fall back in love with it. While the objective is laudable, first impressions are that it comes across more as a typical lager commercial, and that it fails to put much emphasis on pubs, points made by Pete Brown in this blogpost. It’s also hard to avoid the feeling that any such industry-wide campaign has a slight smack of desperation about it.

However, some in the brewing industry don’t feel able to give it any kind of welcome whatsoever. There have been some spectacularly negative comments on Pete’s post, such as “So, it's just another big bucks, ad-based, brand building exercise” and “So it's big brands coming together to promote supermarket sales of their mainstream products. Hmm, it might be a good idea from their point of view but it does nothing for my business.” This comes across as a very blinkered attitude.

The greatest success of beer industry campaigning in recent years has been the scrapping of the duty escalator, which was achieved through all sections of the trade putting aside their differences and speaking with one voice. Sadly, it seems this lesson has not been learned, and the squabbling and finger-pointing has started up again. Of course everyone has the right to express their own opinion and make constructive criticism. However, don’t imagine for a minute that it will cut any ice with the anti-drink lobby to say “we’re craft brewers. We’re different from the big bad boys.”

And it shouldn’t be forgotten that five-sixths of draught beer is lager and keg, so promoting Carling and John Smith’s is, in effect, championing pubs. Surely it’s better for people to be drinking Carling in the pub than prune juice at home.

Full credit to CAMRA for signing up to a broad-based campaign such as this.

I’ll be happy to put a link in the sidebar once it’s up and running.


  1. I think it is up and running. The advert appeared at half time during yesterdays Lions Australia match.

  2. To be fair, it's not aimed at the crafties. They'll already be drinking plenty in pubs. Eg. I'm commenting on this propped up against a bar with a pint next to me. It's not the likes of me whom they have to convince.

  3. Indeed, it's not aimed at the crafties. But the crafties shouldn't say it's a crock of shit.

  4. Its a very poorly thought out campaign that will probably do more harm than good. Can we agree on that?

  5. When Magners started advertising, with their long overdue focus on the (at the time) entirely novel idea that cider is made from apples rather than longbow arrows, by and large the smaller producers 'didn't' get in a froth and denounce everything Magners (though campaigners did, and still do!). Instead, most broadly appreciated being dragged along in the mighty bow-wave of publicity which the whole cider category enjoyed as a result. Perhaps the fierce little craft brewers believe their products are so far removed from beer that they wouldn't gain in any way from a generic beer advertising strategy. It wouldn't surprise me, after all, small-scale brewers have never felt as self-important as they do now.

  6. Its just not a very good piece of generic beer advertising. It seems to me to simply re-emphasise the exact stereotype of beer and beer drinkers that has caused so much damage over the past few decades.

    This is the message.

    Beer is also known as lager. They're the same thing. As we have been telling you for 40 odd years,lager is refreshing when served cold, its blokey, unchallenging deeply unsophisticated and we have nothing positive whatsoever to say about its taste.

    They're marketing it as basically the liquid version of comfort food. Beans on toast in a bottle.

    What they should be saying is:
    Beer, its not JUST lager, look at all these 100s of different styles and colours. It is refreshing, yes, but WOW, isn't it flavourful as well? its a bit like wine only better. Which type of beer do you like best? Have you tried them all?

  7. I've heard so much about this wonderful sucess of scraping the beer duty escalator - but last I looked it still applied to "high" strength beer where high strength is what ever politicians say it is. So forgive me if I don't see that as a rousing example to draw strength from.

  8. "High-strength beer" is that over 7.5% ABV, which accounts for less than 5% of packaged beer and less than 0.5% of draught, so the overwhelming majority of beer does benefit from the duty cut and scrapping the escalator.


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