Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Blaming John

I was expecting my next post to be a beer review, and not another opinion piece on the state of the industry. And trust me, I have a bottle of BrewDog U-Boat Porter in the tube with target range, speed and depth already plotted in. I’m ready to yell “fire tube one” at myself before drinking it any minute now, but first of all I would like to make a short post about today’s Beer Sexism scandal of JW Lees’ Brewery’s “Blame John” campaign.

In summary, the Twitter beerosphere blew up today over the Manchester brewer’s campaign to encourage people (and for “people” read “men”) to stay for one more pint on their Cask Mondays, giving these long-suffering henpecked pauvres a tidy source of excuses with which to defeat their rolling pin-wielding spouses via the “Blame John” service. This early-2000s style relic system will (or would, because it’s not clear if it’s since been nixed) send a text, for your usual network rates, from your “mate” that you can use as evidence when your wife gives you grief for coming home late and stinking of beer.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

There's a Beer For That: The Tightrope and Falls of Beer Advertising

Tonight, a £10m marketing campaign for beer- not a specific beer, just beer- came to fruition with a TV advert immediately following Downton Abbey on ITV1. This is a big deal. This is big money. This is the outcome of a lot of work by Britain’s Beer Alliance, a well-funded lobby for Big Beer.

This was pretty underwhelming, pretty much a whimper where a bang should have been. As my colleague Craig Heap has already pointed out it does look a lot like the current TV spots for McDonald’s, and is just generally quite unimpressive. But there’s a reason for this. This isn’t just ten million badly spent.

The deck in the UK is stacked against beer advertisers. Stacked heavily. The Advertising Standards Agency makes a point to say that the UK has some of the strictest alcohol advertising rulesin the world, and a year ago the folks behind the There’s a Beer For That campaign fell foul of these rules with their Let There Be Beer TV ad, which was withdrawn following a ruling by the ASA.

Take two has been a more (if you pardon the term) sober affair. There’s none of the exuberance and elation of the banned advert. Its tone and theme seems to be the rather bland sentiment “beer is nice” and yes, beer is nice. Beer is an (often) artfully created product, whose artisans manage to preserve centuries-old traditions while also striving for innovation and excellence. Beer is a product with scores upon scores of variations in style, with a storied history and a gulf of complexity that gets deeper and deeper with each purchase of an oddly-labelled bottle at your local bottle shop. Beer is fun to talk about, fun to compare with other beers, fun to mix with different foods. It’s fun to drink a few different beers in a night, not because you might get drunk but because it’s fun to challenge and entertain the palate.

Beer is more than nice, but it would be tough to get any of this into an advert without it being pulled from the TV.