Brewers launch £9m campaign to help save ‘the local’

Britain’s Beer Alliance is shifting focus to promote the pub with its ‘Long Live the Local’ initiative, as projected beer duty increases spell trouble for the industry.

Britain’s Beer Alliance, a cross-industry group of brewers and pub groups, has launched a marketing campaign that aims to promote pubs and reduce beer duty. ‘Long Live the Local’ will focus on celebrating the role of the pub and what it encompasses against the backdrop of three pub closures a day.

Data from the British Beer & Pub Association shows that British beer sales in the first quarter of 2018 were 1.7% down on the same period in 2017. The statistics also reveal that in 2017, although overall beer sales rose, sales in pubs and bars fell by 2.4%: the equivalent of Brits drinking 88 million fewer pints than in 2016.

Beer duty is currently three times the EU average and 12 times higher than Germany, and the perception of the industry is that the rate is becoming exorbitant.

Brigid Simmonds, the chief executive of the BBPA, says: “What’s still needed is a continued focus from the government to reduce the tax burden on beer and pubs to ensure their success in the future.”

This sentiment was echoed by David Cunningham, programme director of Britain’s Beer Alliance, who alluded to “the jeopardy our local pubs face from an unprecedented range of tax pressures”.

Speaking to Marketing Week, Cunningham reveals that the last time there was a similar policy of sustained increases was back in 2008 through to 2013. During this period, beer sales slumped by more than 24%, over 5,000 pubs closed, and 58,000 beer and pub and broader beer industry related jobs were lost, he claims.

Cunningham and Britain’s Beer Alliance will launch this initiative with the intention of combatting these financial pressures and letting “the government know that people want to protect their pubs”.

The role of Britain’s Beer Alliance

Britain’s Beer Alliance was formed in 2014 to reinvigorate the beer and pub industry and sustain category growth.

Consisting of more than 120 members including the founding global brewers ABInBev, Carlsberg, Heineken and Molson Coors, as well as many regional and independent breweries, the alliance’s membership represents over 90% of the brewing industry.

Previously Britain’s Beer Alliance was behind the campaign ‘There’s a Beer for That’, which aimed to exhibit the versatility, diversity, and quality of beer and to drive category momentum.

Reflecting on the campaign, Cunningham says it was “the first time the industry has got together and collaborated and provided a total category message”.

Cunningham regards the campaign as a massive success, revealing that “most of the measures that would track the health of a category have vastly improved” since it was initiated in 2014.

READ MORE: Brewers tap into renewed ‘energy and momentum’ around beer to target new drinkers

However, this campaign will now be replaced by Long Live the Local, with the same team behind There’s a Beer for That leading this initiative.

The decision to move on to the new campaign is due to the fact that “the issues that we were facing around tax pressures and beer closures were becoming bigger than the ones that we were starting to address and improve”, explains Cunningham.

The Long Live the Local campaign

The campaign, created by Havas, will receive £3m in investment each year for at least the next three years, after undergoing six months of extensive strategic and creative development driven by consumer research.

Long Live the Local is composed of three programmes: a consumer programme, a beer trade programme, and a political programme, with each of the programmes possessing a “comprehensive range of initiatives”.

Britain's Beer Alliance 'Long Live the Local' campaign

The consumer programme is “all about advertising to get to a wide reach of beer drinkers and pub goers as possible”. It will incorporate national press ads, a cinematic online film directed by Tom Green of Misfits fame, and a PR campaign fronted by model and pub-owner Jodie Kidd.

Cunningham says “everything we’re doing from a broadcast perspective is to drive people towards the website”, and from the website consumers can sign a petition to reject the planned increases in beer duty.

Britain’s Beer Alliance is “targeting at least 100,000 signatures in year one and half a million by the end of the campaign”, it already has more than 2,000. In addition to signatures, the initiative will encourage consumers to frequent their local pubs and offer their support.

Regarding the beer trade programme, the campaign has created over 15,000 in-pub activation kits comprising of beer mats and posters which can be activated by pubs through the website.

To generate further support within the industry, Britain’s Beer Alliance has also created a range of social and digital collateral that enables pubs to “support the campaign through their website and through their social channels”.

The Alliance has identified industry support as a KPI, aiming for support from at least 15,000 pubs in any shape or form.

The political programme will be especially pertinent, as a change in government policy to the duty escalator and the consecutive year-on-year increases is what Cunningham describes as the “number one objective”.

Preceding the autumn budget, there will be a full programme of events that will look to engage the All-Parliamentary Beer Group – the MPs who are supportive of the beer and pub industry.

Yet support from other MPs is not guaranteed, and they will need to be convinced that “pubs are vital public spaces that provide a fabulous service to communities that bring people together”, says Cunningham.

But the message from David Cunningham and the campaign is clear: “People love pubs, so let’s not overtax them and let’s not cause more pubs to close.”

Britain’s Beer Alliance will be hoping that the combination of uniting the beer and pub industry and the success of previous campaigns from a consumer perspective will indicate a successful campaign for ‘Long Live the Local’, which can go some way towards stopping beer duty increases and minimising pub closures.

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