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Comment - Wehring's Way - The Message Needs Shooting

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Generic marketing, like the editorship of just-drinks, is a tough gig.

The promotion to consumers of a complete category – as opposed to a specific brand within a category – is certainly a road well-travelled: The experiences of those who have tried, suggest that said road contains both perils and pitfalls. The biggest peril comes in the form of the overall message such advertising is trying to drum home.

Invariably, that message reads: “Drink more (insert name of category here).”

In these (ahem) sophisticated times, when many drinks companies are suggesting to consumers that they “drink less, but drink better”, or that they “consider the healthy alternatives in our portfolio”, such a blunt coda could be seen as an attempt to pull consumers in the opposite direction.

Not only that, but as 'binge drinking' and 'obesity' remain buzzwords across our industry, generic campaigns could also provoke the ire of all manner of 'anti-' lobbies.

When consumer group the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) issued a press release earlier this week that suggested that “an extra pint a month could save the British beer and pub industry”, I heard all the alarm bells go off.

"Around 32m people in the UK enjoy a beer at least once a year," said CAMRA chief executive Mike Benner. "But, the number of people drinking in pubs has been in decline, contributing to an overall fall in beer sales.

"There's never been a better time to get down the pub and help save the Great British pub," Mike continued. "Just a pint a month extra is all it would take."

Now, I'm not having a dig at CAMRA at all – the organisation has done great things for the UK's brewing industry; it also hosts the hugely-popular, annual Great British Beer Festival that is taking place in London this week.

It is of concern, however, that CAMRA's target here is existing drinkers rather than new ones. When the message is as broad as “Drink more beer”, the call to action lacks a clear target.

It can also be downright dangerous.


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