Magazine article Marketing

The Real Personality Behind the Big Brand

Magazine article Marketing

The Real Personality Behind the Big Brand

Article excerpt

The rumoured demise of Rutger Hauer in the Guinness ads is focusing debate on when it's right to drop a successful campaign.

Always leave them wanting more is good advice rarely followed by those who should heed it most. And even if Rutger Hauer's sell-by-date has not yet come, last week's rumours of his axing have thrown the issue of quitting while you are ahead into sharper focus.

Holsten and Marlboro must rank among the bravest cullings of recent years. The Marlboro cowboy was made to hang up his spurs after 37 years in 1991.

Admittedly Marlboro's move was largely forced on it by the ever-lengthening spectre of an outright ban on tobacco advertising. Machiavellian theorists believe that the replacement campaign (known simply as red) is an audacious attempt to circumvent a promotional blackout by appropriating a colour.

Many believe that Philip Morris is trying to make Marlboro inseparable from the colour in consumers' minds. In the short term, red has got over the immediate problem of being banned from featuring people in its ads.

For Holsten Distributors it was simply a case of quitting in 1990 while it was ahead. Indeed, the birth of old movies caused the death of "The odd lager" campaign, which starred Donald Pleasence, before it too gave way to Jeff Goldblum. Holsten says that both were difficult decisions. No doubt getting rid of Goldblum will be equally difficult when the time comes.

Holsten has been fortunate in finding a big enough idea to replace its well-loved campaigns. Other brands have been victims of previous successes and suffered for want of a new and equally powerful brand totem.

"Oxo cast around for five years for a replacement for the Katie campaign," says a former custodian of the brand. "The Oxo family is simply a modern version of the values that Katie embodied."

Foster's is another example. "Paul Hogan personified the brand," says an insider. The permanently-tanned Hogan was a pint of the amber nectar who, bored with the work had priced himself out of the market. He was also getting too old to talk to 18- to 24-year old drinkers. But his influence has proven so strong that the brand's latest works uses a young Hogan lookalike.

Courage, however, met these challenges with John Smith's. The Arkwright campaign, which was all flat caps and whippets, was cut short by the death of the actor who played Arkwright. Jack Dee seemed an unlikely replacement and looked like a risky alternative, given the Hogan experience. But the brewer is convinced that the "hard man of comedy" embodies the brand's no-nonsense positioning rather than over-shadowing it. …

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