InBev gears up for launch of 5.5% Stella Black lager

InBev is plotting the launch of an “aspirational” high-strength lager called Stella Black, in yet another move aimed at restoring the brand’s premium positioning. It is the third major launch under the brand in three years.

The launch of the 5.5% Stella Black, expected early next year, follows its decision to launch a 4% Stella lager, in an bid to move away from its “wife beater” image (MW June 18).

Stella 4% has already earned the moniker of “child beater” and sources suggest that the launch of Stella Black will be InBev’s last-ditch stab at trying to prevent the “catastrophic hemorrhaging” of the brand and its association with binge drinking.

Sources also add that Stella Black will be made available exclusively at top premium outlets and aimed at “opinion formers.” The launch is expected in the first half of next year and InBev is already understood to be planning an experiential sponsorship programme to support it.

This will be the third major launch under the Stella brand since the introduction of the Artois family two years ago. It includes 4% wheat beer Peetermans Artois and the bottled premium Artois Bock, a 6.2% version (MW March 9, 2006).

It is not known if the famous “Reassuringly expensive” strapline, scrapped last year, will be resurrected to support the launch of Stella Black. The strapline was created in 1982 by Lowe, which has since lost the advertising business for Stella.

InBev did not return calls as Marketing Week went to press.

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