The beverage business blog from Olly Wehring
If you would like to offer your comments, opinions, suggest topics or just have a good rant, please feel free to email: Olly Wehring.
The FIFA Row - Brought to you by...
31 May 2011 17:45
We love a good dose of in-office debate here at just-drinks Towers. Like many office environments, our industry is one of the main topics of water-cooler discussion, closely followed, naturally, by sport.
The ongoing rumblings at football's governing body, FIFA, have got several of us all riled up - and not just in our merry little office. Earlier this week, The Coca-Cola Co, one of the major sponsors of the FIFA-organised World Cup, went so far as to describe the corruption row as being "distressing and bad for the sport".
Deputy editor Chris Mercer believes that sponsors need not worry too much about their image amidst all this - consumers don't see a link between the actual event and FIFA, he says.
However, I'd bring it back a step or two - when sponsors go public with their feelings on a controversy, they're guaranteed inches of publicity - without having to pay a cent for it.
Coca-Cola is neither pouring petrol nor water on this particular fire, merely offering observers a Coke-branded fork for their marshmallows.
Diageo to buy Jose Cuervo - Again
24 May 2011 20:43
A story - an old story - has broken this evening, claiming that Diageo is in "exclusive" talks to buy Jose Cuervo from its owner, the Beckmann family.
It doesn't look like the situation has moved on much from the last dump of speculation two months ago.
Now, as then, I refer the honourable member to the opinion I voiced earlier.
LIWF 2011 – just-drinks needs you
21 Apr 2011 15:18
This year's London International Wine Fair is almost here.
As in 2010, we'll be hosting our own industry briefing at the fair. 'just-drinks' State of the Nation survey - The UK's wine market in 2011', will look at the current condition of the wine market in the UK through the results of our industry survey.
And, we need your help.
If you work in the wine category in the UK, could you kindly spare five minutes to consider these questions?
The briefing, scheduled for between 1615 and 1730 on the Wednesday (18 May) of the fair, will see me host an esteemed panel of industry big-wigs, including Wines of Chile's UK director, Michael Cox, UK wine columnist and blogger Jamie Goode and the owner of the Wilson Drinks Report, Tim Wilson. Other guests are to be confirmed.
Thanks for your time.
To book a seat at the just-drinks industry briefing, click here.
Olly's Fact of the Day
11 Apr 2011 16:16
Did you know...
I have been advised today that, while the plural of whisky is whiskies, the plural of whiskey is whiskeys.
Consider yourself enriched.
Photo-Journalism – Now, this is more like it
02 Mar 2011 13:07
Every time there's an M&A story to cover, we here on just-drinks like to include a suitable image with our coverage. Maybe a company logo, or a picture of one of the brands involved, or perhaps a snap of the facilities changing hands.
But, thanks have to go to Viña Concha y Toro, which, having acquired Fetzer Vineyards from Brown-Forman yesterday (1 March), sent us this image of its senior executives actually going through the paperwork.
I love this – more of the same from you M&A magnates, please.
From left to right: Concha y Toro's CFO, Osvaldo Solar, and CEO Eduardo Guilisasti with Brown-Forman's senior VP & chief production officer, Jill Jones.
Anheuser-Busch InBev – Hey, everyone. Come, see how good I look
03 Feb 2011 11:41
It was Mrs Wehring's birthday yesterday. She got lots of surprises on the day, the lucky lady. She likes surprises - who doesn't?
It's a pity, though, that Anheuser-Busch InBev's attempts to give the UK drinks media a surprise yesterday failed so dismally. The unit's launch of the cider extension of the Stella Artois brand was set to be heralded by a lunchtime press event, the details of which had been kept very hush-hush.
How exciting, we in the press corp thought. What could this be about?
Sadly, the surprise bubble was burst prior to the party, with A-B InBev choosing to issue full details of Stella Artois Cidre to a UK publication prior to the event.
This isn't the first time a 'surprise' product launch announcement has been trumped. I shan't name names - actually, I will, Britvic.
It's also not the first time that news of the arrival of a new product from A-B InBev has got out before the company was ready. Back in 2008, leaked news of the impending arrival of Stella Artois 4% prompted the hasty arrangement of a press conference in London - so hasty, in fact, that no samples of the beer were available to manhandle or taste.
Now, it's very easy to take potshots at companies the size of A-B InBev - indeed, some appear to take tremendous pleasure in doing just that. But, we here at just-drinks are always keen to search out the good in a company, regardless of how big they are.
It proves nigh-on impossible to do just that, however, when a company believes its next big thing is so great that it warrants a literal unveiling, with trumpet-y fanfare, silk throw and 'ta-da' jazz-hands, only for news to break elsewhere beforehand; even moreso if the company concerned broke its own embargo willingly.
You'll forgive me, then, for politely declining any future 'we're-not-going-to-tell-you-what-it's-about' invitations. My heart just can't take the crushing disappointment any more.
Alcohol education - That's the way to do it
24 Jan 2011 15:35
Yes, I know it looks like it was knocked together by a fifth-grade class project, and it sounds like there's some sort of fight going on in the background, but hats off to the BBC here in the UK for this attempt to show the drinkers of the country the effects alcohol consumption has on their wallets and waistlines.
There's a lot to be said for keeping it simple.
Cost plus duty? Hear, hear. Or, Yes! Yes! Yes!
19 Jan 2011 09:15
The news yesterday (18 January) that the UK Government is to ban alcohol sales below the sum of cost price plus duty has split the drinks industry, prompted a sea of calls to radio stations and given TV reporters ammunition to hit the streets and ask members of the public what they think of the matter - like they need a reason.
The naysayers claim this will do nothing to alcohol prices as they currently stand in the UK, with binge drinking also widely expected to carry on regardless.
Meanwhile, the majority of our industry - by which I mean drinks producers - has welcomed the move (while the on-trade will see the gap between their alcoholic drinks prices and those in the off-trade stay as wide as ever: BUT, THAT'S NOT THE POINT), with some of these fans of the news meekly suggesting that introducing pricing controls is no substitute for education in the perils of excessive drinking.
Of course, drinks producers will applaud this move; for two simple reasons. Firstly, as I've said, it will change next to nothing when it comes to prices – have you found a litre of vodka for less than GBP10.71 (US$17.11)? Secondly, this looks like at least something is being done about a problem.
Suggesting that a higher minimum price limit would have been a wiser move does not take into account that this could provoke the European courts, who would look seriously at this as a contravention of competition guidelines. Besides, as several senior members of trade organisations in the UK have told me, there's nowhere near enough solid evidence linking cheap alcohol with binge drinking.
The Government's move is a win-win for our industry. Whilst it may be a stop-gap, and a medium-term one at that, I imagine many will nod sagely, breathe a sigh of relief and wink quietly to their colleagues.
Is Diageo looking to sell Guinness? What about now? Now? Now?
12 Jan 2011 15:20
Okay, okay. We all know that January is traditionally a pretty quiet month in the drinks industry. It must be all that counting of money that's keeping you folks out of mischief.
But, must we really resort to dredging up stale old rumours to stoke the fires of speculation? Reports out of South Africa today (12 January) have suggested that Diageo is mulling the sale of Guinness yet again - this time, SABMiller is the grateful recipient of the beer brand.
Time was, not so long ago, that Paul Walsh had to field the 'are you looking to sell off Guinness' question at every half-year results conference.
Last month's announcement by Diageo that it has created a global beer category unit should really head off speculation like this at the pass.
I guess the quiet of January encourages the mind to wander.
The Spin Bin – November 2010
20 Dec 2010 14:49
After October's launch, I'm horribly late in getting last month's contenders together for our spin bin. Could it be, then, that I've scared some companies off? I really hope not - this is, after all, just a bit of fun.
To the starting line!
"What's more charming than Nicolas Feuillatte's One Fo(u)r to treat your guests this Christmas? As if they were coming back from a stroll in the snow with their amazing winter sport coolers, both are fruity and youthfully sparkling!" - Nicolas Feuillatte.
"In an audacious display of commercial bandwaggonism, Jamie Stephenson, brand ambassador for Drambuie Liqueur has created the 'Engaging Dram' to celebrate the announcement of Prince William's engagement to Miss Katherine Middleton." - Drambuie.
"The new packaging is bolder and more refined, and achieves the fine balance of reflecting the contemporary style of Gosset, yet conserving its 426-year heritage." - Champagne Gosset.
"The new design features a unique curved embossment on the neck and back, which not only looks good, but also adds a pleasing to-the-touch feel, whilst a distinctive embossed mark acts as a stamp of quality and authenticity. Additionally, the new shape makes it look proud while enhancing the premium positioning of the bottle." - Heineken.
"Throughout the ad, we are transported around the globe to a number of diverse scenes from New York to Hong Kong on a journey of vitality and energy. Ordinary daytime scenarios around the world are transformed by the coming of a magical liquid darkness which brings on the night; bursting with vital energy and the promise of enriching experiences ... just like Guinness." - Diageo.