Its 'reassuringly expensive' positioning opened our shores to a flotilla of exotic bottles, while outlasting all the new arrivals.
But once a brand earns the nickname 'wife beater' it is safe to assume its positioning has drifted. Stella remains a fiercely competitive product, but it is not the bar call it once was and Interbrew's portfolio has room for something like it, only more so.
Of the qualities essential for a 'premium' tag, brand history is paramount.
To be great, a product needs a suitably intriguing story, and Interbrew has resurrected a bottle with a yarn to put most beers in the shade. Artois Bock, apparently, was a beer advocated by the 'free thinkers' at Belgium's Leuven University. So enamoured were the academics that the brew became known as 'Prof Artois'. To tell this tale in sufficient colour, bottles of the beer are being despatched to suitably influential people.
Arriving in iPod-like packaging, the box splits in two. In one half lies an unbranded bottle, and in the other some literary product info. 'Artois Bock is a somewhat problematic field of study,' it begins.
It is beautifully written, evocatively illustrated and a reminder that, sometimes, direct mail is about as premium as communication gets.
- Mailing: Draft London.