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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 29-Sep-06


Friday 29-September-06

Drinking the brand

Consumption of alcohol is both a highly social activity and very profitable business in many countries, which is not surprising given the endless drinks advertising, and brand management is very important. Standing today on the platform there were two out of four alcohol ads opposite, one a familiar Jack Daniels poster with an 'old style' picture and text extolling the virtues of traditional methods and slow passion. Interestingly, the other alcohol poster is promoting 'Magners' Irish Cider', a brand I have never heard of before.

Cider has always been the cheaper option, and perhaps thought less of as a result. As a teenager, it was the standard under-age drink, more like fizzy soda than the acquired taste of beer. It has also been largely a woman's drink, in contrast to the hearty ales that al men quaff.

In short, it has long been the poor cousin, despite occasional efforts, such as 'Strongbow', to position it as a no-nonsense male beverage.

And now, the 'Irish' brand has been attached to cider. I wonder how well this will work -- I suspect it will have fair legs. 'Irish' has progressed strongly in recent years, spreading from a quirky Guinness image to the ubiquitous Irish Pub and general Irish beers.

I have already seen cider sold in one pint glass crown-corked bottles, putting it head-to-head with premium ales, as opposed to the normal big, plastic bottles often associated with soft drinks. Even Strongbow now also have a glass-bottled variant, 'Sirrus'.

So will the latest attempt to re-brand cider as a mass-market alternative to beer work? Not if the past is a reliable predictor, but maybe, if the branding and marketing are done right.

They've made a good, if small start. My suggestions would to target at a young audience who are more ready to try new drinks. Make it fun and fashionable rather than old and masculine. Make adverts entertaining and appealing to young people, showing young people playing tricks on others. Engage a famous young actor for a series of ads.

Cider producers could also do such as leveraging seasonality, with a light, cool version for Summer and a hot-apple Christmas warmer. They could leverage exclusivity in other ways, for example with short-run special bottle shapes or labeling.

In other words, what they could do is limited by two things: their imagination and what will work, given the right marketing.

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