Category Archives: Alcohol

Drinking Aftershave

Haig Club
Diageo’s Haig Club Single Grain Whisky

I can completely understand the temptation for brand owners to borrow packaging architecture from another category, but I believe Diageo decanting whisky into an aftershave bottle – and licensing David Beckham branding to try to make Whisky “cool and trendy” for a new generation – betrays a triumph of opportunism over consideration, which can only destroy brand value.

Putting aside whether it’s a good idea for children to see their dad pouring out a drink from an aftershave bottle (while their mum dabs a bit of Dior “Poison” behind her ears), Haig is one of the oldest and best known Scotch whisky brands in the world with one of the most recognisable bottle shapes in its Haig Dimple.

Diageo owns an enormous portfolio of Whisky brands, and it is certainly tough to balance the need for innovation, consumer acquisition, and the responsibility to preserve its brands’ heritage and authenticity for the next generation. Haig has always been a very accessible, easy-to-drink whisky so this Single Grain variant makes a good choice to target new drinkers.

In this case however, the company appears to have abandoned hard earned brand equity in the hope of a quick win. This new bastard son of Haig goes far beyond “pricking the pomposity” of the old school and “having a bit of fun” by associating with those well known brand gurus David Beckham and Simon Fuller. Beckham of course is famous for being happy to put his name to brands – from underwear to phones to hair-gel – whether relevant or not.

The one bit of good news though is they may get some extra PR – as a new generation try to emulate England Rugby’s Colin Smart and his infamous 1982 after-shave-drinking episode.

Chris Collis is a CIM Chartered Marketer and Director of Marketing Walk Ltd

Alcohol Advertising: an easy target.

In response to David Cameron (and other’s) statements about “[irresponsible manufacturers advertising their brands]” following UK publication of House of Commons Health Committee report on Alcohol:

I have much sympathy for the House of Commons Health Committees concerns about “the consequences of binge drinking which are a cause of many serious accidents, disorder, violence and crime; [and] also long term heavy drinking which causes more harm to health.”

beer swigging youth hoodiesIt’s very easy for politicians to go for a one-line sound-bite from a 140 page report and scapegoat manufacturers and advertisers; but the problems of obese-cider-swilling-teenage-ne’er-do-wells congregating on street corners is a much deeper societal issue than can be solved by a bit of tinkering with advertising regulation. The Health Committee itself recommends that the top issues to be addressed are over-availability and minimum pricing; with some tightening of the scope and process of existing marketing regulation, particularly around sports sponsorship.

My own experience working in both children’s marketing and alcoholic drinks (not at the same time!) confirms that both markets are highly and effectively regulated in terms of product development, labelling and particularly advertising.

Some of the most effective moves in children’s food and beverage marketing recently have been self-imposed by manufacturers aiming for a “healthier” competitive edge in targeting children and their mothers, and improving listings in major retailers. These moves have largely been in response to trends in consumer attitudes (eg on artificial colours and sweeteners).

The Drinks industry has a history of self-regulation through the Portman Group, and ASA/BCAP codes of practice are very specific about the protection of children and promoting responsible drinking. However, it is also time to recognise that “problem drinkers” reflect society’’s attitude to alcohol, and until this perception is effectively challenged, until it becomes socially unacceptable to spend Friday nights staggering vomiting and urinating in high streets, then tactics such as minimum pricing, licensing restrictions and advertising restrictions will be simply temporary sticking plasters.

Education, information campaigns such as DrinkAware, and labelling will not change short term behaviour, but they can change attitudes and lay the ground for initiatives such as the recent St Neots Community Alcohol Partnership* to successfully tackle this important long term issue in a holistic way.

It is time that Politicians recognized that manufacturers and advertisers can be a force for good in this society and work more closely with us. We are not the enemy. We have teenage children too and want to live in a healthy happy and secure society.

Chris Collis
13th January 2010

Chris Collis is a Chartered Marketer and Director of Marketing Walk, an independent Marketing Strategy and outsourcing house
*A six month test project in 2008 in St Neots, Cambidgeshire delivered:
42% decrease in anti-social behaviour incidents
94% decrease in under-age people found in possession of alcohol
92% decrease in alcohol-related litter at key hot spot area
Source: House of Commons Health Committee 2010