UDV chief blasts spirits ads on TV

Spirits manufacturers have failed to exploit the potential of television since restrictions on spirits advertising were lifted, according to the marketing director of one of the world’s biggest drinks companies.

Tony Scouller, marketing director of UDV UK, told an audience of media professionals this week: “These three years [since the lifting of the ban on spirits on TV in 1995] have seen a series of tragically missed opportunities.”

Although TV ad spend on spirits has risen from about 15m in 1995 to almost 42m in 1998, market share of spirits fell by more than 100m from 1992 to 1997.

Scouller concluded: “Manufacturers are guilty of dissipating effort across too many brands rather than concentrating energies on key brand leaders. This lack of focus will haunt us for years to come.”

He also criticised retailers for pursuit of own-label brands, ad agencies for being too concerned with creating ad awareness at the expense of brand persuasion, and ITV, which he said had served advertisers badly in terms of price and audience.

“ITV has made no attempt to prove the added value of its medium. Its initial contribution to the arrival of spirits advertising was to reduce viewing by young people and force up costs,” he said, speaking at a debate organised by media auditors the Billett Consultancy.

In a round-up of recent ads, Scouller singled out his own Smirnoff vodka brand, saying: “You have to ask whether Smirnoff Red has come to terms with television yet. I blame the marketing director.” Scouller is the marketing director in question.

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