Campaign Direct: BBH Boddingtons blitz aims for the heart of the barstool fan.

One beer brand has opted to reject star-studded ads for its World Cup bonanza. Report by Belinda Archer

How many articles have you read so far about the frenzied marketing

activities surrounding the World Cup? More than a handful, probably. No

doubt you will know, therefore, that almost every major advertiser is

planning to exploit the nation’s imminent football fever either by

tactically bunging a star player in their latest advertising or

shoe-horning some oblique footballing references into their summertime

marketing activity.

But the ideas that will really hit the back of the net, if I may indulge

in a little footie metaphor of my own, will be those that strike a chord

with the hearts and minds of the fans and do not appear as a cynical

commercial exploitation of this rare marketing opportunity.

Boddingtons has tried to do just that. The Whitbread brand, which is the

number one canned ale in the crucial take-home sector, has launched what

it calls ’an interactive press campaign targeting dedicated football

supporters’ through its agency, Bartle Bogle Hegarty.

The campaign, effectively a glorified press campaign incorporating six

cut-out executions running on the back covers of national newspapers

until the final on 12 July, sets out to ease the anticipated ’game

tension’ which fans will experience during the tournament.

This ’tension’, ranging from worry about losing your seat as you go to

the bar for your next pint of Boddingtons to keeping your neglected

partner happy as you remained glued to the screen for the four weeks,

may be eased by a variety of humorous creative solutions. Thus BBH has

created a cut-out ’seat reserver’ for use when queuing at the bar; a

’hands-off’ fridge sticker to guard the essential Boddingtons supply for

those fans watching at home; an easy-to-make paper aeroplane to fly your

Boddingtons order direct to the barman without shifting from your stool;

and a ’cut out’ flower complete with apology for your neglected loved

one (assuming, of course, that you are a male fan and that your female

partner is not by your side enjoying the football).

Bruce Crouch, the BBH creative director on the campaign, explains:

’Boddingtons is not a sponsor of the World Cup and we didn’t have huge

budgets so we thought that we should try ’owning’ watching the

tournament. Most people don’t have tickets and will be watching it in

pubs and bars or at home in front of the TV, and we realised that those

are the people that we want to talk to.’

Boddingtons deliberately decided against pumping its limited funds into

a fancy, big-budget TV branding campaign because it felt that guerrilla

marketing tactics and a clear demonstration that the brand is in tune

with the mechanics of following the World Cup would be a more effective

way of getting across the brand message.

’We knew that we would become wallpaper if we went for a big


That simply wasn’t the right thing to do. We wanted to communicate with

the fans by creating something that was truly interactive and that made

them think we really understand them,’ Crouch adds.

The main press work ties in with a host of other Boddingtons activities

surrounding the tournament totalling a modest overall marketing budget

of just pounds 5 million. The fridge stickers and seat reservers will

also be available as point-of-sale in pubs and bars, while the brand is

holding a Boddingtons World Cup Beer Fest, in which ten national venues

will attempt to create ’the perfect big-match atmosphere’ by screening

the matches live at the same time as serving up numerous foaming pints

of the creamy ale.

There will be nominal television activity in the shape of five- and

ten-second break bumpers around the Skinner and Baddiel Fantasy Football

World Cup specials, and Melanie Sykes, the shapely brunette star of

Boddingtons’ main commercials, will carry out a 40-second live draw on

TV every Saturday night of the tournament to assemble the ’Boddingtons

Dream Team’, drawn from a pool of 100 international players put together

by none other than Des Lynam. Gamecards will be distributed free with

every pint of Boddingtons, and the top prize for guessing the team

correctly each week will be pounds 100,000.

Stuart MacFarlane, Boddingtons’ marketing manager, insists that the

brand’s particular approach to the World Cup fits with its overall

marketing strategy.

The ale has frequently demonstrated its sense of humour and ’brand of

the people’ qualities by running one-off topical ads such as the ’au

revoir’ execution featuring a red pint with a number seven on it to mark

Eric Cantona’s departure from Manchester United. But it has also

traditionally been a strong user of press, winning numerous awards for

its inventive ’cream of Manchester’ yellow and black back-cover


’The feel is very on strategy. Boddingtons is a brand for enjoyment, for

having a laugh. It’s more social, more about the experience than the

event,’ he says.

Steve Kershaw, group director at BBH, corroborates how Boddingtons is

being true to its brand values. ’Lots of very big global companies are

spending multi-million pound budgets being official sponsors of the

World Cup and what do they get for it, apart from a bit of PR and some

tickets? We have adopted a much cleverer use of resource. The brand is

just being itself, and taking advantage of the fact that everyone will

be watching the tournament on TV,’ he says.

But will the average beered-up footie fan actually go to the trouble of

meticulously cutting out the fridge stickers or folding up the paper


Crouch is philosophical. ’We don’t expect people to cut them out - we

just want them to have a laugh. But if they are bonkers enough to, then

great,’ he says, adding that the lazier supporter can access a

ready-made World Cup ’viewing pack’ throughout the tournament by

dialling the number featured on the press ads - 0891-191191.