Meantime positions itself as ‘forbearer of craft beer’ in awareness drive

Asahi UK admits to taking “slightly too long” to kick things off with Meantime but did so to truly understand the brand’s heritage, it now plans to raise awareness and drive growth by talking up the craft beer’s heritage.

Meantime Brewery is launching a campaign that taps into its craft beer heritage as it looks to build a deeper connection with consumers and increase its share of voice.

The ‘Cheers to the Pioneers’ campaign looks to showcase the brand’s 20-year heritage in South London.

The campaign features two videos, ‘Pioneered in Greenwich’ and ‘Pioneered Through Collaboration’, narrated by jazz musician and South London local Moses Boyd.

In Pioneered in Greenwich, Boyd talks about the history of Greenwich and its roots in being the place where pioneers would set off to visit new worlds, all while shots of locals and the Meantime brewery are shown in slides.

The ad ends with the line “because Meantime is more than just the name, it’s who we are”.

Meanwhile, Pioneered Through Collaboration draws on the artistic parallels between the working processes of a musician and a brewer and highlights the importance of collaboration for the brand.

Asahi acquired the Meantime brand in 2016, and UK marketing director Sam Rhodes admits the Japanese brewing giant “took slightly too long” to kickstart its communication efforts.

“We took our time, arguably maybe slightly too long, but I think it was the right thing to do to really make sure that we understood the brand and our consumers,” Rhodes tells Marketing Week.

We took our time, arguably maybe slightly too long, but I think it was the right thing to do to really make sure that we understood the brand and our consumers.

Sam Rhodes, Asahi UK

“We took our time because we wanted to make sure we did things in the right way, and didn’t rush in and try to change everything all at once, which you can sometimes find with acquisitions.”

Rhodes wants to build up the brand in the long term by building on key assets and striking local partnerships such as it did with local artists and bars, as he believes this will boost brand health.

“The work we’ve done this year has been in exactly the right order to make sure we’ve got lots of good storytelling and incredible assets to talk about, with a view to accelerate the brand in future years. It’s all part of our journey,” he says.

The “reinvigoration” of the Meantime brand to “gain voice” and “be part of the conversation” in beer circles started a year ago when the brand appointed former Budweiser marketing manager Joshua Smith to man the Meantime brand. Smith also worked as European brand ambassador for Goose Island Beer Company and is a certified cicerone or beer sommelier.

Rhodes and Smith identified the brand needed to “dial-up” its range of beers and collaborate more to increase its awareness, which led to local activations with East London Liquor Company and Pizza Express on niche occasions such as Record Store Day.

Smith says the last time the band did a major national activation for the brand was in 2018 for its ‘Free Proper Beer’ campaign.

The Cheers to the Pioneers campaign differs from past efforts as the brand has not tapped into its heritage in craft beer before.

“To the wider consumer, maybe they’re not aware [of our history]. So I think at first, it may seem like a campaign that is very similar to others, but actually, it’s telling that pioneer message which is very ownable for us,” he says.

“We are doing this campaign because we are one of the forbearers of the [craft beer] movement and this is to communicate our provenance.”

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The brand aims to launch 14 beers this year after developing “innovative” new flavours under lockdown through video calls, notes Smith. Examples include Haze for Days, which is an IPA infused with oat milk, and Brighter Days, a pale ale made with gin botanicals.

As part of plans to increase awareness, Meantime will continue with its collaboration strategy with current and more “local legends” as it looks to build its reputation.

The brand opted not to collaborate with a bigger name for its current activation as it believes craft beer fans will see a lack of authenticity from the brand.

“We could have gone for a bigger, more well-known artist, but we were looking for somebody that is local and shared that pioneering message. A lot of what we’ve been doing previously is all about authenticity through storytelling,” says Smith.

Rhodes concludes: “We really stepped up our craft credentials again and that’s really important going forward for us. We set out in 1999 to be a pioneer of craft brewing and I think that’s where we’re taking things back to.”



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