Magazine article Marketing

Is Irishness Losing Its Ad Appeal?

Magazine article Marketing

Is Irishness Losing Its Ad Appeal?

Article excerpt

Whitbread's is shaking up the image of Murphy's stout, as the fascination with all things Irish looks to be coming to an end. Sue Beenstock reports

It's exactly ten years since Whitbread launched its stout, Murphy's, and today [Thursday] sees a new incarnation for the brand, unveiled in last week's Marketing. The [pounds]6m marketing campaign, including a series of TV ads featuring the Sisters of Murphy's, sees the end of the familiar, five-year-old, 'But like the Murphy's, I'm not bitter' slogan, and the arrival of the not-yet-memorable, 'Drink to the Sisters of Murphy's'. One young man and his precious pint are still the focus of the ads, but the Irishness is less of an integral element and the idea behind the campaign, according to Whitbread's director of marketing for ales and stouts, Peter Jackson, is to make Murphy's fun, fun, fun.

'We've already got over the point that Murphy's is more accessible. But now we need to tell people that it's relevant to more occasions; it's a lively, dynamic drink,' says Jackson. In fact, this isn't new positioning at all, he adds, because Murphy's was originally launched as a premium beer, not just a stout, and the new ads are merely harking back to the original incarnation.

The ads are also about moving Murphy's market share up from 12% of total UK stout sales, where it has languished for the past couple of years, to 14% or 15%, "which is where it's been before," says Jackson. One of his problems is that the stout market has been static since the mid-1990s, with Guinness having the giant's share, and Mackeson, Gillespie's and other brands sharing the remainder, according to independent research company, Datamonitor.

With just 1.4 million men aged 18-34 saying they sometimes drink stout, according to Whitbread's research, the brewer needs to expand the market and is targeting the 2.3 million who, its surveys coyly reveal, are 'non-rejecters' of stout. Whitbread's market analysis goes on to reveal that about 46% of Guinness drinkers are under 35, while 70% of Murphy's drinkers are in that age range. "Younger markets are the key expansion area, places like Yates Wine Lodge have done very well for us," says Jackson.

The idea of repertoire drinking, where drinkers are loyal to a variety of brands within many sectors, has been popular for around five years, and Jackson says Murphy's is a classic example: the biggest stout drinkers are also regular lager and bitter drinkers. "We simply need to encourage them to consider a stout, and Murphy's, as an alternative on a more regular basis. …

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