Growth doesn’t come cheap in lager. Five of booze’s 10 biggest spenders on traditional advertising space are lager brands, according to analysis by Ebiquity [52 w/e 31 July 2015]. 

But as the supermarkets continue to pile high and sell cheap, brands are cutting advertising spend. Carling, the booze sector’s biggest spender on advertising, cut its ad space outlay by 24.5%, while upping spend on featured space promotions by 20.7% [Assosia 52 w/e 30 August 2015]. 

The renewed focus on deals and scaling back on ads is reflected in the brand’s performance, with value sales falling 6% on volumes down 4.6% [IRI 52 w/e 18 July 2015]. Nevertheless, brand owner Molson Coors insists advertising remains a key part of its strategy.  

“Looking to the future, the health of the beer market will depend on the ability of mainstream brands to drive excitement back into the category,” says Matthew Deane, head of category & market insight at Molson Coors. “This can be achieved by building value-added campaigns that keep shoppers and consumers engaged.”

Carlsberg is the only player to increase spend on traditional ad space in the last year: it spent 116.1% more on its standard lager and almost 120% more on premium world beer brand San Miguel, spending just over £3m on each.

San Miguel’s budget, which enjoyed the greatest increase in the top 10, went on TV and cinema ads focusing on the brand’s 125-year history and its ‘And the best is yet to come’ positioning.

The brand secured primetime TV slots next to programmes including Game of Thrones, Homeland and Champions League Football and the ad will also feature in cinemas alongside the latest James Bond instalment Spectre, set for release at the end of the month.

BrandsSpend (£)Y-O-YCinemaOutdoorPressRadioTV
Carling £7,997,829 -24.5% 5.3% 65.1% 3.6% 0.2% 25.8%
Stella Artois £6,813,917 -36.5% 1.2% 44.7% 0.0% 0.0% 54.1%
Foster’s £6,371,321 -31.0% 11.0% 21.3% 3.5% 0.0% 64.2%
Strongbow £5,457,785 -36.4% 9.8% 30.7% 3.7% 0.0% 55.9%
Smirnoff £5,424,242 -10.6% 0.0% 60.3% 1.2% 0.0% 38.5%
Guinness £4,573,559 -40.4% 18.4% 23.6% 1.7% 0.0% 56.3%
Jack Daniel’s £3,245,428 -21.8% 28.1% 44.8% 3.9% 0.0% 23.2%
San Miguel £3,243,372 119.2% 36.5% 27.3% 0.4% 0.0% 35.8%
Carlsberg £3,163,225 116.2% 0.0% 18.0% 4.3% 0.2% 77.6%
Baileys £2,983,114 -11.2% 21.4% 27.7% 2.5% 0.0% 48.5%
TOTAL (Top 10) £49,273,792 -22.2% 10.8% 39.3% 2.4% 0.0% 47.4%

Carling: Hoggy the Hedgehog

Carling is targeting the Great British bloke with pinpoint precision in its latest Good But Not Quite Carling ad, charting football mascot Hoggy the Hedgehog’s efforts to up his game after being branded ’a joke’ last season. Hoggy’s training regime may have been in vain, but we say Carling hits the spot with the ad’s blokey humour, appealing to the brand’s target drinker. 

Stella Artois: The Perfectionists

Stella, meanwhile, is courting a classier crowd, drumming home its associations with sporting events and cinema in this ad. That there’s not a bloke in a football shirt in sight is no accident: memories of its 1990s sobriquet ’wife beater’ are no doubt still fresh. Instead, Stella is going for a more feminine, sophisticated position - just look at the curves of the trademark chalice and flick of foam with a palette knife for proof.  

Foster’s: Hooroo Brad & Dan

Aussie beach bums Brad & Dan saw Foster’s through five years of impressive growth. Of course the brand’s 7.4% decline on volumes down 7% [IRI], can’t all be down to Foster’s bidding ‘hooroo’ to them earlier this year, but it’s clear Oz’s first male rugby cheerleader - star of the new Why The Hell Not? campaign - has big boots to fill.  

In association with: