James Watson, European marketing director at Stella Artois, insists the brand has shaken off negative associations.
Is Stella Artois perceived as the drink of booze Britain, or a sophisticated premium beer? James Watson, its European marketing director, claims the answer is the latter, although he is willing to concede that this has not always been the case.
Watson, 38, a smooth operator with an easy manner, says the brand is now in rude health. 'We have done the same 'deep dive' piece of research every year for the past five years. You can see that the brand has come on a journey. Consumers talk about some of the past issues in the past tense,' he says. 'It is a living case study.'
He points to the launch of Stella Artois 4% in 2008 as the turning point. A creative advertising genre came with the product; out went the bucolic scenes for which the brand had become famous, and in its place, consumers were offered a Continental Riviera world, set in the swinging 60s.
'The ad perspective was fresh, we were doing things in a different way,' explains Watson. 'It softened and contemporised the brand image, and all of that …