Ogilvy & Mather has finally filled the gap left when it lost the
Guinness account by winning the task of relaunching Harp lager.
Harp, the oldest draught lager in Britain, has a rich advertising
heritage, beginning with the famous ’Harp stays sharp to the bottom of
the glass’ campaign, created by Allen Brady & Marsh.
It was the market leader in the 70s and was backed by a budget of more
than pounds 6 million in the 80s.
But the brand has since faced stiff competition from premium lagers with
a more contemporary image and its consumer base is now predominantly in
the Midlands and the North.
O&M has been appointed to overhaul the brand, giving it a younger image
to restore it as a national lager. This is likely to involve ditching
the Irish theme of previous advertising through Publicis.
The work, which will include TV, press, posters and multimedia, will be
tested in the regions with a pounds 2 million spend pending a national
roll-out, which will see a substantially increased budget. The first
campaign will break in May next year.
Guinness launched Harp in the UK in 1961 with a consortium of brewers at
a time when brewers had not started producing lagers of their own.
After years of success with the ’sharp’ campaign, which continued with
’’sharp exit’ when the account moved to BSB Dorland, the brand started
to decline. In 1997, Guinness tried a relaunch, renaming it Harp Irish
Lager and giving it a higher alcohol content.
However, last December Guinness decided to concentrate its marketing
energy behind its flagship stout and handed responsibility for Harp to
the regional brewer, Wolverhampton & Dudley, in a ten-year licensing
O&M picked up the account after a pitch against Delaney Fletcher Bozell
and Walsh Trott Chick Smith, which is on W&DB’s roster with
Paul Simons, the chairman and chief executive of O&M, said: ’This was a
very challenging brief and a fascinating brand issue. Harp has been the
UK’s number one and could be again. The obvious question is how. We are
very excited with the proposed work and are delighted that W&DB decided
on the ideas from Ogilvy.’
The review, handled by Agency Assessments, was called in August when
Publicis resigned the account after ten years, claiming its main
relationship was with Guinness.
’Harp Irish Lager is a key brand in our portfolio and our appointment
demonstrates our commitment. We are very confident we will deliver our
ambitious objectives,’ John Steel, director of lagers for W&DB,
The ’stay sharp’ theme was first used in the early 80s and reintroduced
in the late 80s with the TV personality, Jonathan Ross.