My favourite campaign - Reassuringly expensive stands the test of time

Stella Artois launched its “reassuringly expensive” ad campaign more than 10 years ago. It was an instant hit and has stood the test of time, says David Iddiols.

It takes a confident brand to focus on its high price as a unique selling point.

But that's precisely the approach Stella Artois decided to take when it launched its now famous "Reassuringly Expensive" campaign well over a decade ago.

Underpinning the campaign were beautifully shot press ads, which eulogised passionately on brewing processes, ingredients and the like.

But the earliest TV ads set the tone for today's descendents, with their quasi-serious approach evolving into the humorous "do-anything-for-it" campaign currently on our screens.

These TV executions are a real credit to Lowe, the agency responsible for the creative idea.

Beautifully directed, by genuine industry stars such as Jonathan Glazer and Frank Budgen, their quality withstands repeated viewings with ease.

Integrating brand communications is clear and obvious sanity. The fact that the process helps to ensure consumers get the message louder, faster and deeper has not been lost on the brand team during this campaign's long life.

Where Stella scores particularly highly is in its canny sponsorship and careful media placement of these naturally cinematic ads.

Multiplex audiences are accustomed to the strains of the campaign's distinctive accordion soundtrack, but the brand's sponsorship of Channel 4's films, its imaginative Stella Screen events and accompanying online presence (including a long-standing relationship with Guardian Unlimited Film), help deepen the association with cinema, and maintain the brand's more sophisticated edge.

The strength of the positioning is such that when Tesco offers eight cans for a fiver it is interpreted as a brilliant deal, rather than one that undermines the brand's core proposition, and Stella's unswerving commitment to its message is, once again, vindicated.

As time marches on, there are inevitable challenges to Stella's empire, but "Reassuringly Expensive" remains a genuinely differentiating property.

Any attempt to discard it would, in my view, be foolhardy indeed.

David Iddiols is a partner at HPI Research.

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