Magazine article Marketing

Beer Nut

Magazine article Marketing

Beer Nut

Article excerpt

"Hello," says Frazer Thompson. "Ik ben direkteur van een rijwielfabriek in Zaandam." He is, it seems, director of a bicycle factory in Zaandam.

Actually, no. Thompson is about to leave his post as the strategic marketing director of Whitbread and become the international brand manager for Heineken, based in Amsterdam. The bicycle factory line is as far as he's got with his Linguaphone crash course in Dutch.

Geordie-lad Thompson is the sort of lager-swilling, curry-eating, rugby-playing, bloke Newcastle excels in exporting. His CV is a curious mix of sound career and Loaded laddism. Whitbread gave him 11 years of the sort of marketing and strategic experience that convinced the Dutch to break with tradition and give its top marketing job for its flagship brand to an Englishman for the first time. Colleagues past and previous praise his leadership skills and willingness to take risks.

On the other hand, he lists 'beer' as a leisure interest, quotes the managing director of Deconstruction Records as a referee, and likes to tell how the slight limp he sports came from when he was injured playing rugby for England Rugby Classicals against France (a slight exaggeration - he played, but only for 20 minutes and his appearance was part of a Whitbread sponsorship deal).

Having spent five years hopping between media audits, the marketing department of Express Newspapers and the brand department of Denby Tableware, he took on what was seen as the sleepy but fun job of Whitbread marketing manager for ales and stout in 1989, landing the task of overseeing the Boddingtons brand after Whitbread acquired the brewer.

So it was Thompson who was in charge when Battle Bogle Hegarty introduced Gladys Althorp and the 'Face Cream' and 'Cornetto' ads, giving Boddingtons a real personality among a sea of bitters. Thompson was also behind the 1993 'not bitter' ads for Murphy's, which have carved it an identity in a world of Guinness wannabes.

Not everyone is enamoured with him. A more ill-advised move came in 1991 when, says Lowe Howard-Spink's Whitbread account director Adam Kirby: "Frazer showed how he doesn't have a shred of PC in his body." He ignored the more sensitive actions of Whitbread towards the gay community and its decision to open a string of gay pubs, with Flowers ale ads screaming 'Not all Flowers are pansies'. …

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