Young drinkers targeted in drop of the hard sell
Whisky campaign: Ground-breaking TV adverts designed to appeal to a `lost generation'
Saturday 02 September 1995
A few million television viewers last night witnessed an historic event, probably without realising it. It lasted a minute, was seen in Scotland, Ulster and the Border and Granada TV regions, and will be repeated every week until Christmas.
The viewers might have thought they were watching an advertisement for the Scottish Tourist Board until the final few seconds, when words appeared proclaiming: "Bell's 8-year-old Scotch whisky - who said it was a quiet drink?" No picture of the bottle or of the Bell's label appears in the advertisement, which features general shots of Scotland's countryside, parts of the distilling process and of young men drinking in a bar.
After 40 years in the television advertising wilderness, United Distillers has become the first whisky producer to use the most powerful medium. Its target is the "lost generation" of young drinkers who have turned to vodka and white rum.
United Distillers, owned by Guinness and the largest spirits producer in the world, spent the best part of two years lobbying to lift the ban imposed by television companies on advertising spirits. Clearance to advertise was gained in June and was immediately celebrated by Richard Branson with commercials for Virgin Vodka.
With a touch of irony, it was the Scotch whisky industry itself that brought about the ban. In 1955, when commercial television was launched in the UK, the whisky producers struck a gentlemen's agreement not to advertise on television.
The reason was never explained but television companies eventually incorporated the agreement into the industry's code and practice.
Consumption of Scotch in the UK today is considerably less than it was in 1955. While the ban on television advertising has contributed to the decline, the industry's two biggest problems are changing fashions among younger drinkers and Budget tax rises.
Just over pounds 7 of the price of a bottle of Scotch that sells for pounds 11 is pocketed by the Treasury in excise duty and VAT. The high price of Scotch has undoubtedly been the drink's biggest enemy, evidenced by the growth in sales of cheaper supermarket own-label brands.
Whisky sales as a percentage of all the spirits sold in the UK declined from 51 per cent in 1978 to 42 per cent last year. The typical whisky drinker is male and over 60, and drinkers between 25 and 34 only consume 10 per cent of all the Scotch consumed in the UK.
About 85 per cent of the spirit is exported but the UK market remains an important one for producers. A Guinness spokesman said of the pounds 2m campaign: "We are trying to get back the lost generation of 25- to 35- year-olds. If this advertising works then we will consider a national campaign for 1996."
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour
- 2 Scottish referendum results: David Cameron set to unveil major devolution of powers to England
- 3 iOS 8 is full of shiny new features - but it's terrible news for app developers
- 4 Scottish independence: Tory revolt against 'devo max' grows as Rail Minister Claire Perry joins
- 5 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Scottish independence results live: Reunited kingdom - Scotland gives a clear 'No' in historic referendum
Scottish referendum results: David Cameron set to unveil major devolution of powers to England
Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
Scottish independence: YouGov final prediction puts No campaign 8 points ahead - but Yes team remains optimistic
Scottish independence: Tory revolt against 'devo max' grows as Rail Minister Claire Perry joins
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Part Time Primary TeacherOur...
£7 - £8 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: The Job:School Science Technici...
£50 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Long term SIMS School Administr...
£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Nursery assistants re...