FIELD MARKETING: One for the roadshow - Drinks marketers are finding that it’s becoming vital to get out among their consumers and run promotions which bring their brands to life. David Murphy reports

The days when an on-trade drinks promotion would involve little beyond plying the punters with as much booze as possible are long gone.

The days when an on-trade drinks promotion would involve little

beyond plying the punters with as much booze as possible are long


Today, drinks companies are engaging in more sophisticated field

marketing techniques to create the right sort of image for their


At In Real Life, an agency specialising in what it calls ’face-to-face

communications’, managing partner Richard Zucker believes that the

constraints applying to on-trade promotions are forcing the brewers and

their agencies to put a little more thought into their field marketing


’It’s how you can combine the product and the brand experience and bring

the brand to life, given the constraints that are placed on you by the

people who own the premises,’ says Zucker. ’Anyone carrying out a

campaign based around posters and bunting has lost the plot.’

In Real Life is working on campaigns for a stout, a lager and a


Although he admits the type of work his company carries out is expensive

when measured in traditional terms, Zucker believes that if a campaign

is interesting enough, it can pay for itself in other ways, such as the

media coverage generated. And despite the costs, Zucker says that

interest in his company’s work has never been greater.

’More companies are trying it because of concern over where the next

great ad is coming from,’ he says. ’As segmentation becomes more

relevant, companies know who they are after and where they go. They can

afford to be more edgy, more dynamic and more focused on young people,

without offending their traditional consumers by running a risky TV ad


Guinness calls its field activities ’Project Maverick’. The Maverick

team arrives in a town on a Friday afternoon and hands out vouchers

which entitle the bearer to two free pints of Guinness in participating

pubs during the evening. According to Guinness spokesman Jeremy Probert,

however, this is only half the story.

Guinness gets ahead

’It’s not just a question of giving away free beer,’ he says. ’Anyone

can do that. It’s a question of dispelling some of the myths about

Guinness: that it’s heavy, that it’s warm, that it’s an old man’s drink.

We talk people through why they should be drinking it and as a result,

they reassess the brand. You would be surprised how many people switch

to Guinness as a result.’

Similar thinking explained a field marketing campaign for Gordon’s Gin.

Headcount was brought in to put the roadshow together, which aimed to

promote gin and tonic among 18- to 30-year-olds, who, according to

research, were not drinking enough G&T. Many people thought it was a

drink for their parents. Headcount blitzed 1800 pubs and clubs over four

months, teaching bar staff how to serve the perfect G&T and creating

promotions which positioned Gordon’s as a more youthful drink.

Scottish Courage chose this summer’s hit film, The Full Monty, as a

vehicle for promoting its John Smith’s Extra Smooth Bitter brand, which

ran in conjunction with Yates’s Wine Lodges and Regent Inns across the


The film features six unemployed steel workers who form an unlikely

striptease act. In the John Smith’s promotion, the hunt was on for the

five men in each participating pub who could give the best impersonation

of the dancers in the film, with a trip to Hollywood for the winners.

’The Yorkshire setting, down-to-earth style and direct humour made the

film a perfect match for the brand,’ says brand manager Cara


Niall O’Keeffe, marketing controller for lagers at Carlsberg-Tetley,

believes that companies need to take great care when organising events

to target younger drinkers. ’The 18- to 24-year-old consumer is very

advertising literate, very marketing literate and very cynical,’ he

says. ’They respect good advertising and good promotions, but a bad one

can cause your brand a lot of damage.’

Carlsberg has turned to sponsorship, supported by related promotions, as

a way of reaching its target audience. The brand was a sponsor of Euro

’96 and, this year, organised the Carlsberg Concert 97, featuring stars

such as Rod Stewart and Seal, and seen by a global TV audience of 500


A number of on- and off-trade promotions, many tailor-made for

individual pub and shop chains, ran in conjunction with the sponsorship.

It’s an area where, O’Keeffe believes, many companies miss a trick.

Wasted opportunity

’Lots of people buy into sponsorship and then don’t exploit it,’ he


’Paying the fee is just opening the door. If that’s all you’re going to

do, you might as well not bother, because your cynical 18- to

24-year-olds will see right through it.’

At HP Bulmer, an on-trade promotion was used over the summer as part of

a push to help its Strongbow cider brand into the top ten in the Stats

MR Audit of best-selling long drinks. The ’Win A Million Free Pints of

Strongbow’ promotion ran in pubs throughout the country. Any customer

buying any product was offered a Strongbow scratchcard, and if the

necessary two Strongbow glasses were revealed, they won a free pint of


’We know that people’s opinion of Strongbow, once they have tried it, is

very good,’ says Bulmer public relations manager George Thomas. ’The

promotion was extremely successful in terms of the number of new people

who had the opportunity to try Strongbow.’

As a result of Bulmer’s investment in the Strongbow brand during 1997,

the drink was recently placed number 12 in the Stats MR Audit of long

drinks, up from number 14 earlier in the year.

Thomas admits that with all the other marketing activity centred on

Strongbow in 1997, including a new livery, new bar fonts and an pounds

8m TV advertising campaign, it is impossible to say how much the

’Million Free Pints’ promotion has contributed to the rise up the chart,

but he concludes: ’It’s all part and parcel of the same thing.’

Don’t take it as Red

While many companies use field marketing to promote their brands, not so

many use it to carry out market research. One exception is field

marketing agency Aspen Field Marketing. In November last year, it

embarked on a campaign to launch the alcopop Red into the on-trade. A

number of different promotions were staged to see which type worked best

and Aspen also conducted research into distribution and stock


In addition, bar staff were questioned about their attitude toward the

brand, while drinkers attending Red promotional evenings were quizzed

about their reaction to the drink by a team of field market researchers

with laptops and digital cameras.

According to Aspen joint managing director Gary MacManus: ’Usually on

promotional evenings, very little data is collected, but in our view,

it’s something you have to do. Consumers might enjoy their free drink,

but you have to find out what would make them buy again.’

Iain Ferguson, chief executive of sales promotion agency KPL and

chairman of the Sales Promotion Consultants Association, can see why

companies adopt this approach but believes they should not overdo it:

’More and more drinks companies are using techniques other than mass

advertising to reach consumers, because it’s more interactive and they

can target people more accurately,’ he says.

’They need to be careful, however, as it’s a social environment and

people are there for pleasure. It would be inappropriate to take

advantage of them when gathering information.’

At IDV, Jack Daniels brand manager Graham Penter says that on- and

off-trade scratchcard promotions are used for data capture of Jack

Daniels drinkers. The company has around 250,000 names on its database,

sorted into lifestage groups so that relevant offers can be targeted at

different sectors of the database.

Malibu nights

At the same company, Angela Curry, UK brand manager for Malibu, is

heavily involved in Malibu Massive, an annual three-month campaign

running from June to August, centred around six separate Malibu nights

in 40 night clubs up and down the country.

During this summer’s campaign, Curry hired Voxpops International to

produce a two-hour film of voxpops with the clubbers to see what they

made of the event. Their opinions will be fed back into the planning for

next year’s campaign.

Curry believes the Malibu Massive nights are vital in building brand

equity and loyalty: ’We don’t just want people to buy, we want them to

form opinions.’ People come away from these nights having had a

fantastic time. You can’t reach people that way by advertising to them

in their rooms.’

As the drinks companies refine their field marketing activities still

further, it looks like 18- to 24-year-olds are in for many more good

nights out in the years to come.


At Allied Domecq Spirits & Wine, the company’s Tia Maria brand is being

repositioned as a mixable spirit rather than a ’back-bar liqueur’. It’s

an integrated campaign, involving above- and below-the-line activity,

but the focus of the on-trade activity is a ’Dance With the Devil’

competition, running in night clubs in seven UK cities: London, Bristol,

Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Anyone buying a Tia Maria and coke in one of the clubs on a ’Dance With

The Devil’ night has the chance to dance with a professional dancer, who

is dressed as a carnival devil. The devil selects a winner from each

club to go through to the final at the London Hippodrome in January,

where the overall winner will win a clubbing trip to New York.

The devil reflects the ’Princess of Darkness’ heroine of Tia Maria’s TV,

cinema and press advertising campaign, while, according to Allied Domecq

liqueur marketing manager Trudy Lloyd, the promotion itself reflects the

sophisticated tactics needed to market to young people: ’Our target

consumers are very sophisticated,’ says Lloyd. ’We have to talk to them

in language they understand, the sort of language their peer group would

use. We know that Tia Maria has enormous brand equity, so what we’re

trying to do with this promotion is to bring the brand to life. So far,

we believe it’s been very successful.’

Devil in a red kilt: Tia Maria drinkers get to lambada with Lucifer in

the latest Allied Domecq nightclub promotion.


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