Interbrew slams 'lager lout' culture of advertising

LONDON - Interbrew has lambasted UK brewers for pursuing advertising that reinforces stereotypes of beer drinkers as session-drinking lager louts and warned that wine will overtake beer as the nation's favourite tipple within 10 years if they persist.

The brewing giant's latest Market Report contains figures that will alarm the brewing industry -- wine sales have grown by 35% in volume in the past five years and are forecast to rise by a further 2% by 2007. Meanwhile, the volume of beer sold in pubs has plummeted by about 200m pints a year since 1980.

Interbrew's category and brands director Phil Rumbol said the decline was caused by beer's poor image in the UK, which is exacerbated by advertising cementing its association with "session drinkers, lager louts and beer bellies".

He said: "The brewing industry needs to present beer more positively and that means looking as how beer is advertised and who the advertising is aimed at."

Interbrew's key brands are Stella Artois, Boddingtons, Murphy's, Hoegaarden and Castlemaine XXXX. Publication of the report coincides with the launch of a campaign for Castlemaine XXXX, the lager brand Interbrew took over from Carlsberg-Tetley in January.

The TV ads, by Mother, feature two Aussie guys backpacking their way around the world and seeking out the lager brand in weird and wonderful places. The brand's famous strapline -- "Aussies wouldn't give a Castlemaine XXXX" -- has been dropped in favour of "Australians are Castlemaine XXXXing everywhere".

Rumbol denied the ads contradicted the sentiment of the Market Report, saying some brands were suited to humour, but adding that not all brands should be advertised in the same way. For instance, Interbrew's campaign for Hegaarden through Mother, due to launch shortly, will aim to appeal to art house audiences and will not show the products.

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