Let There Be Beer!

As most people of my age and gender practically have a degree in beer drinking, it’ll come as no surprise that two recent beer-marketing stories have rather piqued my interest. Not least because they appear to compliment each other so neatly!

While such humour based adverstising that serves to reinforce gender stereotypes may be perceived as funny, they can actually have an adverse effect on brand perceptions.

On the one hand, a recent survey by Canadean Custom Solutions has found that 36% of UK adults believe that beer advertising is ‘outdated’ and ‘stereotypical’ while on the other you have the beer industry launching ‘Let There Be Beer’ - a major campaign to re-invigorate declining beer sales.

There seems to have been a fairly recognized formula for beer marketing in the past, and that was humour-based advertising. This was true across the spectrum of brands notably John Smith’s enormously funny ads featuring Peter Kay;

In fact the penultimate ad in that montage means that anyone like me who struggles with ‘keepy uppy’ has a catchphrase to say when it all goes wrong and thus partially sidestep the ridicule! Such ads clearly used humour to highlight the brand’s values, a technique no less valid when marketing premium brands, like this personal favourite from Stella Artois;

Clearly the premium element of the beer is shown by the high production values and emphasis on the brand’s heritage.

However this survey tells us that such blokey, humour-based approaches to advertising are contributing to declining beer sales. Here’s the survey’s manager – Michael Hughes;
“While such humour based adverstising that serves to reinforce gender stereotypes may be perceived as funny, they can actually have an adverse effect on brand perceptions.”

I must confess I’m skeptical about the findings of this survey. Humour plays such a huge part in our lives and is so central to how most people define themselves (think of the presence of ‘GSOH’ in almost every dating profile). And beer is and will remain a such male-dominated market that I imagine the new ‘Let There Be Beer’ campaign, which will kick off with TV ads at half time of the second Lions test this Saturday, will make more than a slight nod in the direction of the accepted ‘blokes being funny’ formula.

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