Adwatch Selling coals to Newcastle; shopping

Xenophobia rules in British advertising, it now seems. First, came Blackcurrant Tango with the TV ad in which a purple shorts-clad Tango marketing executive challenges the world from a boxing ring erected atop the White Cliffs of Dover. Now comes the return to TV of that Northern pub and student bar favourite: Newcastle Brown Ale.

Scottish Courage is spending pounds 4 million to freshen the image of "Newcy Brown", with a TV and cinema campaign which features Howie, a Geordie returning home having travelled the world.

To celebrate his homecoming, Howie goes down the local with his mates and presents each with a gift from the exotic places he has been. Surprise, surprise the present is the same from Brazil, China, Australia, Russia and the US: a gift wrapped bottle of Tyneside's favourite ale. "Well, I didn't see anything else I thought you'd like," our friend explains.

Talk about coals to Newcastle. Only the point here is that far from being a quaint local brew, Newcastle Brown is now an international success - worth more than pounds 125 million in the UK alone and available in more than 40 other countries around the world

"We want to bring Newcastle Brown back to the forefront of people's minds," Scottish Courage brand director Brian Sharp diplomatically reveals. "There is a huge resurgence in interest in premium ales - a market which was moribund for quite some time. Now, people are more eager to trade up: a trend we have already seen in lagers with the success of Becks and Stella Artois."

Brian Sharp believes drinkers are after less volume but the same, or more, alcohol content. "They want drinks that taste of something - a real flavour. And they want genuine and authentic brands. Newcastle Brown fits this bill," he adds: it has been brewed in the city for almost seventy years.

This has given the ale a certain credibility abroad - notably in the US where it is now one of the country's top 20 most successful beer brands - without any advertising at all: the cognoscenti have discovered its charms purely by word of mouth.

Back in the UK, the new campaign, created by advertising agency Collett Dickenson Pearce, marks the first TV advertising for Newcastle Brown in five years. The push also includes a national poster campaign (again with an international flavour: "Tyne and Every Wear Else" runs the line). And it coincides with a bottle label promotion and sponsorship of premiership league leaders Newcastle United.

With growing competition in the market, Newcastle Brown just can't afford to rest on its laurels. Although sales now top 250,000 barrels a year (around 72 million bottles) sales in the premium market as a whole are currently rising by around three per cent, year on year. If Scottish Courage can at least equal that, they'll certainly have something to drink to.

Meg Carter

Six of the best children's winter wear

As the temperature drops so coats become priority pieces of kit. Good kids coats are particularly hard to find and expense is a key factor. So we've featured a selection to suit all budgets. Although traditional duffle coats remain popular there's a new breed of anoraks, parkas and fleeces which offer multi-purpose use - with features such as zip out sleeves, button off hoods and reversible linings. Colours are bright and playful, turning the once boring jacket into a fun piece of clothing. Wear with patterned tights and neon wellies and your ready to hit the playground.

1Karrimor red fleece jacket, pounds 25 Fleece jackets are surprisingly shower-proof, and very light. From The Karrimor Store at North by North West, 3 Southampton Street, London WC2 (01254 385911); hat, pounds 35.50; tights, from pounds 25; scarf, pounds 33, all from Oilily, 9 Sloane Street, London SW1 (01225 469259); boots, Lily's own wellie pets.

2Fuchsia-pink and orange coat, pounds 16.99 Good, affordable, padded shower- proof coat. From Hennes, 261-271 Regent Street, London W1 (0171 255-2031); tights, from pounds 25 and orange rucksack, pounds 23.50, from Oilily; bright pink wellies and pink Barbie umbrella from Woolworths.

3Red snow bears, pounds 19.99 Cotton outer fabric means it's warm, but not for really wet weather. From Hennes; skirt, Lily's own; tights, from pounds 25; tartan teddy rucksack, pounds 57; multi-coloured wellies, from pounds 24.50, all by Oilily.

4Black floral coat with fake fur collar, pounds 27.99 Comes with detachable hood and belt. Next, 160 Regent Street, London W1, (0116-284 9424); white tights, pounds 3.50, from Boots; bright pink wellie boots, pounds 4.50, from Woolworths

5Turquoise Yeti coat, pounds 65, by Roobarb and Custard For serious Muppet Show fans; not particularly practical but very warm. The Conran Shop, Michelin House, 81 Fulham Road, London SW3 (0171 835-0010); tights, Lily's own.

6Yellow coat, pounds 145; tights, from pounds 25, both by Oilily This coat is the most expensive of the bunch, but the quality is excellent. If you like to pass on clothes to friends and family, this one will last for years. Animal umbrella, pounds 5.95, from John Lewis. Boots, Lily's own.

Comments