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
Sport
footballLIVE City face Stoke, while Warnock returns to Palace dugout
Arts and Entertainment
books
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, Linux, Shell, Bash)

£50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, L...

Data Scientist (SQL, PHP, RSPSS, CPLEX, SARS, AI) - London

£60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A prestigious leading professiona...

Financial Technical Consultant (C++, C#, Finance, MSc, PhD)

£50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Financial Technical Consultant (C++, C#, F...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone