Despite Diageo’s efforts to extend Baileys’ appeal beyond a Christmas treat, the festive period remains a crucial time for sales.

The brand has faced challenges in recent years, with offers from new competitors such as Dooley’s and Guylian threatening market share, and its indulgent positioning being challenged by aggressive trade promotions.

The in-store promotions were evident again this year, but so too was some significant advertising in December. Diageo invested over eight times as much in Baileys in the four weeks ending 4 January as it did in the same period in 2007.

Some 90% of the £2.7m spend went on TV, primarily to promote the mint chocolate and caramel variants, which were launched in 2006. The dark and atmospheric 10-second ads featured close-ups of mouths whispering and licking their lips in anticipation at the thought of drinking the liqueur.

It also changed its slogan again. After ‘Let your senses guide you’, Baileys chose the rather reserved ‘Serve chilled’. It has now turned positively racy with ‘Listen to your lips’. The press adverts feature young, attractive, trendy people – which is clearly the market the brand is aiming for.

This strategy was backed up by Diageo’s sponsorship of Films on 4 in the lead up to Christmas. The idents, shot in the style of classic movies, highlighted the brand’s theme of sensuality once again.

Baileys’ investment really stands out in a period when alcohol advertising was 31% down year-on-year. Within the spirits and liqueurs sector, Baileys significantly out-spent and out-shouted the competition.

Even the biggest whisky brands, such as Glenfiddich, The Famous Grouse and Diageo’s own Bell’s, invested less than Baileys between them, despite The Famous Grouse spending more than half a million on promoting its new The Black Grouse brand.

Although firmly in Baileys’ shadow when it comes to splashing the cash, Southern Comfort and Bell’s have both spent generously in the year to date, with £1.7m and £1.4m respectively. However, they devoted only 17% and 19% of this to advertising over the Christmas and New Year period.

Disaronno took a more festive approach, spending 33% of its £1m budget in the period, although this was still 53% less than its spend in the same period last year.