Saturday, 18 December 2010

Half of all advertising is wasted

...but you never know which half. I was reminded of this old saying when leafing through a copy of the Stockport Pub, Food and Music Guide, a local independent publication that is a sort of competitor to the local CAMRA magazine Opening Times and all too often is a cuckoo in the nest of the Opening Times holders. It’s a glossy, all-colour, 44-page A4 magazine that, in its most recent issue, contains no less than 77 adverts for pubs and clubs. Given that it doesn’t seem to reach the Cheadle and Bramhall areas, that’s over half the establishments in its catchment area.

Most of the ads are very standard stuff, promoting weekend karaoke and live football on plasma screens, illustrated by stock photos of non-real looking pints and young female singers, so you have to wonder what benefit the pubs actually derive from them. Or is it just a case of “the pub down the road is doing it, so we don’t want to miss out”? It’s noticeable that some of the top-drawer pubs such as the Arden Arms and Magnet are conspicuous by their absence.

I can understand pubs advertising in a CAMRA magazine, as it might draw in new customers from visitors to the area, or promote events such as pub beer festivals. It’s also a way of making a contribution to the “cause”. But if you don’t have anything distinctive that a hatful of other pubs don’t, it is hard to see the point. And, personally, karaoke and footy are a big turn-off.

One of the most laughable ads is for the Horse & Jockey in Hazel Grove, which boasts of “a terrific range of ales”. Now, the Magnet, Crown or Railway could justifiably make that claim, but for the Horse & Jockey, which probably has John Smith’s Extra Smooth and one intermittently available cask ale, it is absurd.


  1. I always pick up a copy of this when in Stockport as I find it unintentionally funny. I remember being impressed, the first time I read it, with the number of pubs advertising in it. Until I realised there didn't seem to be any of what I would class as "good" pubs in it.

    An odd publication that must have a good sales team as I can't really see the point of it or what market it's aimed at.

  2. it's always great when you get mislead into a pub which has a 'fantastic range of real ales' and you go in to find 4 crap keg lagers and john smiths and tetleys smooth. :(

  3. It does have plenty of "good" pubs in it - for example the issue I have includes the Nursery, Armoury and Railway on Portwood, all long-standing GBG entries. But, as you say, they must have a persuasive sales team. It's also noticeable that it doesn't give an address for the publisher, which I thought was a legal requirement.

  4. Can anyone answer if 'pubs' get a tax break by pretending to be the old fashioned pub but in effect are restaurants with a tiny drinking area attached? Both my local pubs have gone this way and are now effectively useless as a pub.

  5. I'm not aware it makes any difference to their tax status - in the eyes of the authorities, so long as they retain a full on-licence, their class of use remains the same. I agree it is a depressingly common phenomenon.


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