EDITORIAL: Holsten Pils review could signal a return to basics

On the face of it, the decision to review the pounds 6 million Holsten Pils account at TBWA GGT Simons Palmer seems as peculiar as the advertising that has characterised the brand for so long.

On the face of it, the decision to review the pounds 6 million

Holsten Pils account at TBWA GGT Simons Palmer seems as peculiar as the

advertising that has characterised the brand for so long.



For more than two decades it has been served by some of the most

innovative beer advertising to grace Britain’s TV and cinema

screens.



From the cleverly produced quick-cut commercials which allowed Griff

Rhys-Jones to trade banter with Marilyn Monroe, to Denis Leary’s

’in-your-face’ comedic style, the work has underpinned the brand’s weird

personality.



Now, however, Holsten has severed its relationship with Scottish Courage

in the UK and, with marketing and distribution in its own hands, the

German brewer wants to be sure its advertising is cutting the

mustard.



Holsten is observing the diplomatic niceties, insisting that the review

will take place on a level playing field where TBWA will be given every

chance to prove itself worthy of keeping the business.



Doubtless the company is sincere in what it says.



But the fact that it has called the review does, at the very least,

suggest an underlying desire for change. TBWA will certainly have to

pull something extra special out of the hat if Holsten is not to seek

what it sees as greener pastures elsewhere.



What may have precipitated the review is the fact that the Holsten Pils

work has a weary look to it. The eccentricity and quirkiness with which

the late actor Donald Pleasance first gave to the brand has become

increasingly hard to sustain at a time when so much advertising purports

to be ’alternative’.



Moreover, the Holsten campaign is in danger of sinking into the

anonymous morass into which so much beer advertising has plunged. Of the

current crop of commercials, the Guinness ’surfer’ spot is the only one

that literally jumps out of the screen at you. Successors to the great

Carling and John Smith’s campaigns are rarely to be seen.



Perhaps the time has come to strip the Holsten brand down to its bare

essentials and start again. The two oily ’suits you’ salesmen fronting

the campaign may be terrific PR for The Fast Show. The question is

whether they now eclipse the brand they promote.



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