Tsingtao plots UK drive to broaden appeal

Chinese beer Tsingtao is embarking on a major effort to raise its profile in the UK outside restaurants and ethnic supermarkets.

The company has hired design agency Spring Associates and web design firm Online48 to oversee its marketing. Mason Media will handle its public relations.

The brand is seeking to widen its distribution in the on- and off-trade in the UK, as well as promote itself in major markets globally by building on its status as an official sponsor of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Tsingtao was first exported to the UK in 1955. Until now, its sales have mainly been confined to the UK Chinese community and its restaurants. It is now seeking to boost its profile outside this market and major cities.

Brewers of mainstream lagers have been quick to spot the potential of niche beers. Scottish Courage's portfolio, for example, includes Russian and Spanish lagers Baltika and San Miguel, as well as John Smith's and Foster's.

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