Scottish Courage clears out brands

Brewing giant ditches ‘second-tier’ brands to plough 60m ad spend behind national campaigns

ScottIsh Courage is taking the axe to its extensive portfolio of secon-dary brands and switching its 60m advertising spend into big ales and lagers.

The brewer, formed from Scottish & Newcastle’s 425m takeover of Courage, is focusing its marketing spend on big national brands and will leave many of its second-tier brands to “fade and die”. The rationalisation of the brands in the portfolio, which number more than 80, is the first tangible marketing move since the deal was completed and reflects the dominance of Courage’s brands over Scottish & Newcastle’s.

It forms part of the 75m cost savings that the management has promised to deliver from the merger. Details of the marketing strategy were revealed by Scottish Courage chairman and managing director Guy Dickson and marketing director John Nicolson at a confidential meeting with City analysts.

Marketing budgets for brands including the Younger’s range of ales, Gillespie’s Stout and Home Bitter will be transferred to top Courage brands such as Foster’s lager and John Smith’s ale. As part of the rationalisation, S&N brands such as McEwan’s lager – which has had strong marketing support in the South in recent years – and Webster’s ale will have their media spend slashed as they are retrenched into their local areas.

The brewer will not promote the bulk of S&N brands in the South, or Courage brands in the North and Scotland. However, a select band of S&N brands including Beck’s, Theakston Ales and Newcastle Brown Ale will be supported nationally.

“We will support major brands that consumers like most – we won’t put money behind brands which are not of interest to consumers,” says a Scottish Courage spokesman.

According to one analyst, Dickson heaped praise on the Courage portfolio underlining that S&N bought Courage for its brands. “S&N has not had the new product development success of Courage – Gillespie’s and Coors have not done as well as Courage brands such as John Smith’s and Foster’s.”

In a separate move, S&N is delaying expansion plans for its Center Parcs chain of leisure complexes over the next two years to concentrate on building better facilities on the existing sites.

Roberts quits, page 10

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