Heineken refreshes its image - Business - News - The Independent

Heineken refreshes its image

INSIDE BUSINESS Marketing: as British drinkers develop a taste for stronger lagers, Whitbread launches a pounds 10m campaign to create a leadi ng brand

IT IS an advertising campaign which for more than 20 years has successfully refreshed the parts other lager advertising failed to reach. Until now. British drinkers' tastes have changed, which is why brewing giant Whitbread is shifting its attentions away from Heineken lager in favour of its premium brand, Heineken Export.

Evidence of this came on Friday, when the first advertising in a pounds 10m marketing campaign for Heineken Export broke on national television. The campaign, created by the advertising agency Lowe Howard Spink, adopts the endline: "Heineken Export. The world's favourite import." It is designed to emphasise Heineken Export's international appeal and brand heritage.

In the first of two new commercials, inhabitants of a small Italian village in the 1930s welcome home not their victorious young boxing champion but the bar owner who has returned from his holiday. In the second, Muscovites queue for tickets, not to watch Swan Lake, but to drink at the opera bar.

Heavy investment in television airtime will ensure significant media exposure - a sign Whitbread now plans to turn Heineken Export into a leading brand, says LHS managing director Tim Lindsay. "In the past four or five years, growth in the standard lager market has slowed and stopped," he explains. "Premium brands and even bitter are now more popular, as people discover a taste for stronger beers."

Heineken lager was first brewed in 1863. It has been popular in the UK since the 1970s, when the "Heineken refreshes the parts ..." campaign was created. But what the British drinker knows as Heineken lager is not the same beer Heineken drinkers enjoy elsewhere. UK Heineken lager is a weaker brew, 3.4 per cent alcohol by volume, introduced in the 1950s to cater for the British palate.

The so-called standard lager market for weaker beers enjoyed rapid growth in sales until five years ago. The recession threw into relief what brewers had already begun to fear: that British people travelling abroad more regularly had started to get a taste for stronger, premium lagers. The UK premium lager was born and grew rapidly. Five years on, the standard lager market remains in decline, says Heineken's marketing manager, Richard Evans.

"There is an underlying long-term trend across all age groups, with standard lager taking a smaller share of consumption," he explains. This is why, in 1991, Whitbread launched Heineken Export in the UK: a stronger brew, 5 per cent alcohol by volume. The launch was supported by an ad campaign which featured Stephen Fry as a "smooth-talking bar steward", and the aim was to stress the beer's smooth taste. "Sales of Heineken Export have grown 30 per cent year on year since," Mr Evans says. "But it was not the sort of growth we were looking for."

Research revealed that British drinkers believed Heineken Export was little more than a marketing invention. It lacked credibility, Mr Evans says. So Whitbread decided to invest heavily in building Heineken Export into a leading brand. The first stage was a pounds 3m sponsorship of the Rugby World Cup earlier this year. Next came the new advertising campaign, supported by repackaging to position Heineken Export as the original Heineken beer.

"The object now is to confront people's prejudices," Mr Lindsay says. "Heineken is the world's most ubiquitous beer. This is a great claim to be able to make, and the brand's internationalism was a good starting point for the new campaign."

But what of standard Heineken lager? Whitbread has no plans to let the brand dwindle, Mr Evans insists. "Heineken lager now has a 10 per cent share of the standard lager market, ranked third after Foster's and Carling. The whole point of the new strategy is to get a bigger share of the premium lager market for Heineken Export, but we certainly intend to maintain our 10 per cent share of standard lager, if not build it."

British drinkers' tastes may have changed, but there is still significant demand for weaker beers, he believes. "They will always have a place, not least because it is not socially acceptable for blokes to drink half- pints in British pubs, even if it is stronger beer. They would rather have a pint of something weaker."

The aim is to balance the needs of both brands, he adds. "The next step will be to return our attentions to Heineken standard lager, marketing it in the future through its association with Heineken Export."

Suggested Topics
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Sales Executive

£20 - 24k (Uncapped Commission - £35k Year 1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seekin...

Payroll & Accounts Assistant

£20 - 24k + Benefits: Guru Careers: This is a great opportunity for an enthusi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £280 - £320 p/d - 6 months

£280 - £320 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Senior BA - Insurance **URGENT**

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week