For the Heart of Gladys Althorpe
Cooper, Glenda, The Independent (London, England)
AS THE frothy, fizzy, feminine drinks market last week mourned the loss of its guru - Francis Showerings, inventor of Babycham - it seems that reports of its own demise may have been exaggerated.
While most drinks companies have in recent years avoided marketing women's drinks for fear of the epithet "patronising", both Taunton Cider and William Grant & Son are aggressively pursuing drinks for "ladies" as a profitable niche market.
"There just weren't any interesting drinks for women," says Karen Hill, who manages Grant's Taboo and Mirage - white wine and vodka mixed with fruit juices. "Men had their designer beers and there was no specific alternative for women. These are fashionable. They appeal to the female palate."
It's hardly a million miles from the Babycham girl - light, feminine, fun, daring but not dangerous, whom most thought had given way to the glamorous, brash Mancunian Gladys Althorpe, heroine of Boddington's advertisements.
Babycham was launched in 1953, but its heyday was the 1960s, when it epitomised glamour and modernity. Despite a relaunch, and new bottle designs, sales have slipped, although 25 million bottles were still shifted in the last 12 months.
Ms Hill contends that Taboo is not a Babycham clone. Its latest pounds 500,000 advertising campaign, she says, is pitched at "aspirational 25 to 35-year- old career women". "We are targeting a slightly older woman," she adds. "They tend to be more stable in their drinking habits than younger consumers."
Taunton's Fres - a white cider at 4 per cent alcohol - goes further: "It's more targeted at the ladies. It's clean, crisp and refreshing and light," says Ann Taylor, the company's trade and community relations manager.
Apparently Fres women may drink it as a substitute for wine over lunch, or as a lighter drink in the evening. The firm has spent a lot of time and effort researching the "attractive bottle". …