Magazine article Marketing

Mark Ritson on Branding: Where Next for ASA's Ugly Stick?

Magazine article Marketing

Mark Ritson on Branding: Where Next for ASA's Ugly Stick?

Article excerpt

Lambrini may sound like an exclusive Italian wine. It is, however, none of the above. Despite outselling every other wine brand in the UK, it is actually made from pears, not grapes, and is therefore a perry.

Rather than Tuscany, the brand hails from Huyton, Liverpool, where parent company Halewood International is based. And it is certainly not exclusive - in any sense of the word. More than 40m bottles of Lambrini were drunk last year in the UK and on a perceptual map of customer impressions, the brand probably occupies the position diametrically opposite to associations such as exclusive and refined.

For five years, ad agency Cheetham Bell JWT had been doing a sterling job of building the brand's brassy, but accessible, associations with a multimedia campaign aimed at Lambrini's female market. The creative may not have troubled the judges at Cannes, but its saucy straplines and dead-on portrayal of young 'up-for-it' British women struck a chord with its target demographic.

Then came 2004 and the Grand National. Cheetham Bell saw the big race and its populist fan base as an ideal marketing opportunity and ran a series of local outdoor ads around Aintree and its railway stations. The campaign used the trio of young women who had featured in earlier Lambrini ads, but updated the copy with four highly suggestive straplines. 'I love a man with a powerful beast between his legs' was my personal favourite and certainly gives an uninitiated reader an accurate sense of the general tone of the campaign.

Inevitably, perhaps, the sentiments of these ads were not appreciated by everyone. Eleven members of the local populace complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). In due course, the ASA reviewed the Lambrini advertising and upheld these complaints in a sober (if slightly contradictory) assessment. The ASA concluded that the 'explicit sexual innuendo' (sic) in the ads was likely to cause 'serious or widespread offence'. Crucially, the ASA recommended that Lambrini contact its Copy Advice team prior to preparing further similar ads.

Bolstered by its clear grasp of the brand's positioning, Cheetham Bell began work on a new pounds 2m campaign for August 2005 entitled 'Fun in the sun'. The ad was intended to feature a new trio of women who snag an attractive young man in a parody of a fairground stall. …

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