Whitbread has completed a strategic review of Heineken’s marketing strategy, which is understood to include dropping Stephen Fry from the Heineken Export commercials and allocating a far greater amount of Heineken’s total budget to the brand.
It is believed the decision to drop Stephen Fry from its two and-a-half year campaign by Lowe Howard-Spink is part of an effort to broaden the brand’s appeal.
Whitbread director of marketing for lager and stout Mike Dowell says that, with the premium lager market growing much faster than the standard, Whitbread has decided to change emphasis. “Until now, Heineken Lager has enjoyed more money than the premium brand, but that is now going to change. Heineken Lager was the original Heineken product in the UK and is still very central to our brand strategy. This move does not mean that it will be unsupported,” he says.
“We are looking to put more money behind the development of Heineken Export and developing a new TV campaign. But I can’t say whether it will include Stephen Fry,” says Dowell.
Some Ãº3.2m was spent on Export last year (Register-MEAL) and Ãº2m on Lager. This differential looks set to grow.
One source claims that Whitbread has reacted faster to consumer preference than most brewers.
“Consumers have made this choice on their own and they are battling against having standard lager shoved down their throats,” says the source. “All Whitbread is doing is responding to market forces.”