TBWA rethinks John Smith’s ads after poor performance

TBWA/London has gone back to the drawing board for its latest work for John Smith’s Bitter after the campaign it devised – the first since comic Peter Kay cut ties with the brand – fared badly in research.

It is understood the agency and Scottish & Newcastle – the owner of the John Smith’s brand – are in talks about the future of the campaign. Insiders say discussions are continuing over whether to revert to the “No Nonsense” theme or focus more on the “benefits strategy” of the brand.

One insider reveals: “The Peter Kay ad is a difficult act to follow.” He says new work – without the Lancashire comedian – should have aired on television before Christmas but performed badly in research. Kay indicated he wished to part company with the brewer early last year and his contract, which expired in November, has not been renewed.

He starred in a series of ads that proved popular both with the critics and with consumers. Ads showed Kay in a diving competition; taking the role of an insensitive wedding DJ who reveals a dark family secret; and starring with Engelbert Humperdinck in a Las Vegas nightclub.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here