Rosie Davenport
Greene King has found it pays to push advertising boundaries after sales of Abbot Ale surged following a saucy £500,000 advertising push.
Sales of the beer rose by 22.2% in the first quarter of 2002 to the end of July compared with the same period last year.
"The ads are based on a truth ­ we wanted to talk about the fact that the beer is brewed for longer but not by talking about hops, which sends people to sleep, so we did it in a way which was more eyecatching," said Greene King md Rooney Anand.
"A spin-off from the ads is that we made headlines in the national papers which certainly helped give the brand a higher profile."
Anand said his policy of refusing to discount Old Speckled Hen in the multiples had contributed to its 14.1% growth in sales.
"We track value share far more than volume share," he added. "You can't buy bumper deals of Hen in supermarkets. Selling it with excessive price cuts to fulfil brewery volumes would erode the brand."
Greene King plans to launch a 75cl bottle of Old Speckled Hen in time for Christmas along with another burst of advertising.
More marketing is also in the pipeline for Abbot Ale, although Anand is tight-lipped about whether it would continue to sail so close to the wind.
The brewer also reported a 5.7% rise in sales for IPA bitter which will get a second round of advertising later this month.