Magazine article Marketing

Promoting in Pubs

Magazine article Marketing

Promoting in Pubs

Article excerpt

Pub promotions rely on a mix of free drink and creativity

Some marketers need a drink just to contemplate promoting in pubs. The array of competing brands is vast, pub estates are all-powerful, and the landlord may not display the campaign you have sweated blood to produce.

No wonder so much work is me-too in nature, says Steve Gumbrell, new business director of marketing agency Purchasepoint. "Clients are inhibited about choosing something different, so they opt for dull work which they know delivers."

The changing nature of the pub environment has made it tougher for brands to run innovative promotions. Retailers such as ID Wetherspoon and Inntrepreneur pay such low prices for beer that they have little interest in promotions. "They can play brewers off against one another to get the cheapest price and they are not that interested in brand-switching activity," says John Gellett, managing director of sales promotion agency ZGC.

In this environment, only megabudget prize promotions or innovative bespoke activity seem to work.

With so many brands after the same young drinkers, the creative stakes have been upped in bars. For Bacardi Breezer, ZGC produced a promotion, In The Mix, which reflected the brand's Cuban roots. Prizes included Cuban music CDs and T-shirts. There was a one in four chance of winning, so excitement was created in the bar.

However, most promotions continue to put the brand first and the venue second, says Neil Jenkinson, director of The Marketing Store Worldwide. "Frankly, you can have the best brand promotion in the world, but if it does nothing for the venue the landlord won't support it."

Implementation rates in pubs can be very low - up to 50% of pub kits never make it out of their box.

The new challenge in pubs is introducing some theatre into the environment. Brands may have to look beyond their own objectives, says Jenkinson. "We will see more strategic partnerships with snack and food brands for example, or ranges of brands such as Carling and Smirnoff."

The Marketing Store is helping Bass support its sponsorship of the Premiership through a promotional night with Pukka Pies. Pie and Pint nights run in pubs in tandem with Monday night football on Sky. Drinkers who sup pints of Carling and collect tokens can claim a hot pie.

The Marketing Store reports that landlords loved the concept in trials and it is being rolled out this month.

Food for thought

"Carling differs from other sponsors in that it recognises that no one is bigger than football," says assistant brand manager, Jonathan Fair. "The half-time pie is part of the ritual of support; it adds value with a bit of humour."

Campaigns should add to the atmosphere in pubs, says Cerys Bevan, associate director of marketing agency Triangle. "It's sometimes forgotten that people go to pubs to have fun." Triangle devised this year's St Patrick's Day promotion for Guinness - one of its biggest promotions. It used Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO's 'One St Patrick's Day. 364 Practice Days' theme to help landlords make the most of March 17.

The day was flagged up in advance to encourage 'practising'. Participating outlets were identified by big green pints outside. An in-bar promotion offered a free T-shirt when you bought a round of four pints the previous week. …

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