Beer prices set to rise to pay for advertising

LONDON - The price of a pint of beer is set to rise by as much as 10p as brewers look for ways to fund expensive advertising campaigns.

The price rise charge is being led by Coors, which owns the Carling, Worthington, and Grolsch brands in the UK and smaller independent brewer Wolverhampton and Dudley, which is behind Mansfield and Marston's Pedigree ales.

According to reports, Coors is set to increase barrel prices by as much as 4.7%. Coors, which also produces Coors and Coors Lite, said that a significantly increased marketing budget was a factor in the decision.

With Coors and Wolverhampton already committed to increase prices, it is likely that other major brewers operating in the UK, including Scottish Courage and Carlsberg-Tetley, will follow suit.

Prices could rise even further in April when chancellor of the exchequer Gordon Brown announces his budget. Beer has enjoyed a freeze in budget-related price rises for two years, but with the government looking to raise money for public spending, beer drinkers are an easy target.

Brewers in the UK own some of the UK's biggest brands and their success owes a great deal to the millions spent on marketing.

In Marketing's Biggest Brands report last year the top four lager brands -- all in the top 50 UK brands table last year -- were among the fastest growers for the year to April 2002.

Foster's was the second-fastest growing UK brand over the year; behind Foster's was Carling, up 25.9%; with Budweiser and Stella Artois growing by 20.5% and 18.3% respectively.

The strong performance is set against a backdrop of shifting consumer trends, a shake-up in the brewing sector and effective marketing clout.

Stella's "Reassuringly expensive" campaign by Lowe, M&C Saatchi's "He who thinks Australian..." work for Foster's; and Budweiser's "Lizards" then "Real American Heroes" are some of the strongest campaign themes of recent years.

Most recently, Carling has continued with its campaign playing on the 'ing' of its name with a £3m TV ad shot on location in Jaipur, India featuring an old Indian guru and his young pupil from London. The endline is "Uplifting" with creative by Leith London.

Earlier in the year, Carling ran into trouble with its "frustrating" TV ad, which the ITC banned until after the 9pm watershed. The spots featured a slacker boyfriend who, to his girlfriend's frustration, has not cleaned their flat. But when she knocks over a can of Carling, she is amazed to see him lick it up. Dripping it along the floor, she leads him around so that, in his eagerness to drink the beer, he inadvertently ends up licking clean the whole apartment -- including the bath and toilet.

Once the flat is clean the girlfriend poses seductively in her underwear. The spot ends as she holds the can over herself -- only to find it is empty, with the strapline "frustrating". In a second spot, the lager flows freely, with the strapline "rewarding".

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