Carlsberg pulls plug on alcopop launches

Carlsberg-Tetley has shelved plans to launch up to five alcopop brands, following its decision to scrap the relaunch of Thickhead alcoholic jelly.

The company has confirmed this week that it will delay the relaunch of Thickhead until the controversy surrounding its appeal to under-age drinkers dies down. However, sources say it is unlikely that the brand will ever be relaunched.

A C-T spokesman says: “We have decided to delay Thickhead’s return until the climate is better. It has become a totem for unfair criticism.”

Since Marketing Week first revealed C-T’s plans to launch Thickhead (August 16), the product has been strongly criticised by pressure groups and the media for its possible appeal to youngsters.

The company’s chief executive Ebbe Dinesen ordered C-T to pull the initial launch after pressure from industry watchdog the Portman Group (MW September 6). C-T pledged to redesign the label, using an older-looking model. It was planning the relaunch last week.

Thickhead was to be one of half a dozen new alcopops from C-T this autumn. Others included alcoholic fruit juice, water and another clear liquid, dubbed “heavy water”. The decision to put off their launch will be a blow to development director Tom Wright, who has worked on the brands.

One source close to C-T says: “This has big implications for the company’s new product develop-ment (npd) plans. It has never been at the forefront of npd, and has let others take the flak. It should have stuck with Thickhead from the start.”

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