A new image for Stella to put off the lager louts

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The Independent Online

For more than a decade, Stella Artois lager has employed artfully shot adverts. But they have been at odds with the beer's lager-lout image, and now the beer brand is putting its "Reassuringly expensive" slogan into hibernation.

The brewer InBev has asked the advertising agency Lowe Worldwide to create a new television campaign to advertise the family of Artois beers. The slogan for the campaign, which aims to emphasise the tradition of the Belgian beers, is "Pass On Something Good".

Lowe came up with "Reassuringly expensive" in 1982, to sell Stella as a premium brand, and has been running its signature cinematic television adverts since 1991. However, the lager has become better known for its potency – 5.2 per cent ABV – than its quality, earning it the moniker "wife-beater".

Sales are also down, falling 10.7 per cent between April and June, a drop which the company puts down to poor weather, the lack of a major summer team-sports event and people adopting a more responsible approach to drinking. Over the same period, the beer market as a whole slumped by 7 per cent. The Belgian group will concentrate on its Peeterman Artois, which taps into a growing appetite for lower-alcohol lagers. A poster campaign carrying the new slogan is already running.

Robert Bruce, a spokesman for InBev, said that, for the foreseeable future, the company's emphasis was going to be on promoting "la famille Artois". He admitted that Stella had an image problem typified by a judge who criticised it for links to alcohol-fuelled violence. John Hardy, the Brighton Recorder, giving judgment in the case of a plasterer who attacked his former girlfriend's new partner, said: "There are key words which recur all too frequently in cases involving young men and alcohol. They are 'Stella' and 'binge drinking'."

Mr Bruce said: "It's gone too far. There's a real risk in the way 'wife beater' has been associated with Stella Artois of undermining the issue of domestic abuse.

"There's no denying there's a problem with alcohol misuse in this country, but you can't blame one particular product for that. Antisocial behaviour is caused by people, not by drink."

Stella became the bestselling take-home beer in 1995.

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