Thursday, 20 August 2009

Marketing on strength

One of the reasons given by Alcohol Focus Scotland for their complaint to the Portman Group about BrewDog’s Tokyo* was that it was being “marketed on the basis of strength”. This is obviously a gross misrepresentation, but it led me to think that in practice alcoholic drinks of any kind never are marketed on strength – indeed it is something that goes against advertising codes. People may choose a particular category of drink, but within categories nothing ever seeks to appeal on the basis that it is stronger than its direct competitors.

Many years ago, Whitbread got into hot water with the Advertising Standards Authority by advertising Gold Label barley wine (then sold in nip bottles at 10.9% ABV) as “as strong as a double whisky” and nothing remotely similar ever appears nowadays.

I can’t recall seeing Gold Label in a pub for ages, but it still lingers on in 33cl cans in the off-trade, now reduced to 8.5% ABV, and presumably selling overwhelmingly to old blokes. Interestingly, its makers seem to be able to extract a premium price for it, four cans typically selling at just under £5, or 44p per alcohol unit, compared with the 35p more typical of super-strength lagers.

There’s a review of canned Gold Label here on a site – Hywel's Big Log – that is refreshingly different from the usual CAMRA/beer geek style of beer reviewing.


  1. Gold Label was the only thing Whitbread brewed that was worth drinking. In a Tetley pub I used to go to once a week for a folk club, I drank it mixed with mild to make a rather good drink. Much better than drinking Tetley's dreadful bitter. Then the pub stopped stocking it as it didn't suit the "demographic" they wished to attract: young kids playing pool. The folk club changed venue soon after.

  2. It is still available in bottles - the New Victoria in Longsight has it.

  3. And thats a reason to go to Longsight?

  4. Well Cookie, you're really letting your guard down here. As self proclaimed "northern scum" I thought you would be quite happy to go to Longsight (and the New Victoria is a very good pub let me say)where all of the pubs sell cooking lager. Bit too real for you eh?

  5. I learned to drink this stuff in the 70s. The hard way I might add. After drinking it all evening and then talking to god on the big white telephone the next day I vowed never to touch it again. I changed my mind when presented with one as a chaser to a pint of mild in a Midlands working men's club a little while later. It is agreat way to liven up a so-so beer.


Comments, especially on older posts, may require prior approval by the blog owner. See here for details of my comment policy.

Please register an account to comment. To combat persistent trolling, unregistered comments are liable to be deleted unless I recognise the author. If you intend to make more than the occasional comment using an unregistered ID, you will need to tell me something about yourself.