Brewers put their faith in World Cup pulling power

WITH the start of the World Cup just a few days away, brewers such as Bass and Scottish & Newcastle are splashing out on advertising and wide-screen televisions to recreate the atmosphere of the terraces in their pubs.

If it's anything like the Euro 96 football tournament, when many beer brands posted double-digit growth, sales will surge during the World Cup. Beer sales are otherwise sluggish, with only "premium" brews posting strong growth.

"Every single brewer in the market place seems to be going for the World Cup, and the pub operators too," said Fraser Ramzan, an analyst at Lehman Brothers. "It may increase sales but there will be no one winner and [the increased sales] will come with the expense of promotions. The market as a whole is declining."

Recent comments from brewers including Greenalls Group and Whitbread suggest consumers are feeling the impact of six increases in interest rates and a manufacturing slowdown.

Brewers have been on the defensive for years. Government figures show beer consumption dropped 19 per cent between 1977 and 1996, as wine consumption quadrupled and cider more than doubled. Marketers are now looking to football to lift sales in the pounds 2.8bn a year take-home beer market and the pounds 22bn pub trade.

"It may well be the injection of interest that brewers need at this time of the year," said Peter Rowe, an analyst at Granville. "But it's one month out of 12."

Since England's 1990 World Cup foray, writers like Nick Hornby have made the sport fashionable and it's more popular than ever with women. During Euro 96, Victoria Wine's weekly sales rose 17 per cent, with most of the increase coming from lager and beer.

Carlsberg-Tetley, the official sponsor of the England team, is hoping sales growth will match the 400 per cent volume increase it experienced in the May/June period of Euro 96 from the previous two months. And Scottish Courage, the Scottish & Newcastle-owned maker of John Smith's and Tartan Special, is putting hundreds of thousands of pounds into the event, having seen sales of some brands rise by 10 to 20 per cent during Euro 96.

"A lot comes down to how the brand puts itself about," said marketing manager Steve Boland. "People may put themselves in a pub environment more than usual but they're every bit as brand conscious."

One of its more elaborate marketing stunts is the Glasgow Tartan Tent. At least until the second round matches, Scottish Courage will fund a tent accommodating 4,000 fans, with four large screens, 45 metres of bars and entertainment from stars including Del Amitri.

In addition, Scottish & Newcastle's retail division and its suppliers are spending pounds 500,000

on promotions and extra staff and services in its 2,600 pubs.

Bass's Carling, Britain's biggest-selling lager, has tied in its relaunch with the World Cup. The company has spent pounds 24m on removing the beer's "Black Label" epithet, running a simultaneous TV advertising campaign and promotions with the tag "Vive le Football'.

And on a smaller scale, Fuller, Smith & Turner, the maker of London Pride, has set aside at least pounds 500,000 - almost half its annual advertising budget. The company enlisted Bobby Charlton, the former England star, for a series of TV ads featuring the works of Rudyard Kipling and William Shakespeare.

The adverts will be aired during ITV's News at Ten, a cheaper slot than during the games. "We know we can't outspend our competitors but we can outsmart them," said marketing director John Roberts. "Half of the budget is ready for action and we may spend more."

So what if you're not a fan and you want to escape the hype? Not all pub operators have been bitten by the soccer bug. JD Wetherspoon has declared itself a World Cup-free zone. "We have always had a policy of no TVs in our pubs and we aren't going to change the way we run the business for four weeks every four years," said John Hutson, managing director. "We're aware there might be a short-term loss but we think there'll also be customers who won't want to be surrounded by people watching football."

Copyright IOS & Bloomberg.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent