Friday 11 August 2023

Beer advertising in the 1970s

As the brewing industry became more concentrated, these new, large groups invested heavily in advertising.

This was a golden age of TV beer adverts. Which were so prevalent that I can still sing the jingles. With intense competition between the Big Six, they were prepared to spend considerable sums to get attention for their products

Obviously, only national brewers or very large regionals could afford to advertise on television. Meaning most advertisements for big, mainstream brands.

And which beers were they plugging on TV? At the start of the decade, it was mostly Keg Bitter. The big Bitter brands of the Big Six were all heavily promoted.

Whitbread Trophy: 

“Whitbread big head Trophy Bitter,
the pint that thinks it’s a quart.

It's got the body, the body that satisfies,
It can't be modest no matter how it tries.

Cos it's the big head Bitter, Trophy Bitter
The best that you've ever bought,

Whitbread big head Trophy Bitter,
the pint that thinks it’s a quart.”

Whitbread Tankard: “Tankard helps me excel”

Ind Coope Double Diamond: 

“A Double Diamond works wonders,
Works wonder works wonders
A Double Diamond works wonders,
So drink some today.”

Watney’s Red: “Join the Red revolution.”

Younger’s Tartan: “It’s the bitter people choose – given the choice.”

Courage Tavern: “It’s what your right arm’s for.”

There were spots for other mainstream beer types. Mackeson Milk Stout is a good example. “It looks good, it tastes good and by golly it does you good.”

Then there was Davenports. One fairly small brewer who did advertise on television. Not for a specific beer, but for their home delivery service. Which extended well outside their Birmingham home.

Taking a different tack to most regional brewers, they sold off some of their tied houses to fund their delivery service. It was a daring move which, at least in the short term, paid off. I assume it was killed off by cheap supermarket beer.

Beer at home means Davenports,
That's the beer, lots of cheer.
The finest malts with hops and yeast,
Turns a snack into a feast.
Straight from brewery to your home,
Why collect, we'll deliver.
Soon you'll know why folks all say,
Beer at home means Davenports.

I have personal experience of this, because my Dad bought beer from them. My first taste of beer – when I was 11 or 12 – was the bitter from Davenports. I really didn’t like the taste. Though I found it OK mixed into a shandy. How young I was.


Robin said...

Living in West Yorkshire we had Webster's Pennine Bitter adverts which featured Fred Trueman. The advert was memorable because Fiery Fred would be breathing fire like a dragon and the strapline was that it quenched the northern thirst (or something along those lines). Later Ray Illingworth got in on the act and then finally they had talking dray horses.

Rob Sterowski said...

Quite ironic that Younger’s chose the claim “the bitter people choose, given the choice” for the free trade in England, given that S&N were doing their best to deny any choice to drinkers in their own pubs in Scotland.

Chris Pickles said...

If you want good beer make the V sign
Make the V sign, make the V sign
If you want good beer make the V sign
'Cos V's the sign you want a pint of Vaux

or for their lager..

What do you say to a Norseman?
Whey of course man
What's yours man
What do you say to a Norseman?
To a Norseman what do you say?

Anonymous said...

My first "proper" job in 1971 was at the Leo Burnett -LPE advertising agency, where I worked on the Watneys Red Revolution campaign. I still have one of the copper plates from the colour advertising. Interesting times, as I also worked on the Tea Council account, on the "Tea Goes Pop Around The Country " campaign, featuring one J. Savile.

Thom Farrell said...

Was the Red Revolution campaign considered successful?

Anonymous said...

Watney’s red barrel used to be sold in Ireland.

Anonymous said...

I try and avoid beers advertised on television or advertised in mass advertising it tells me they spend more money on trying to make a beer look excellent than spending said money on malts, hops, yeast, water and the brewing and racking process where the real quality comes into.

Chris Pickles said...

Websters also had an ad featuring Benny Hill sitting in a baby's high chair with a bottle of Green Label and a glass.

"Just 30 seconds to wait and I shall be 18, old enough to drink Websters Green Label. Have you seen the way they pour it - that froth!"

And so it went on, until someone who I suppose was meant to be his mother came and took the beer and glass off him, saying "You'll be one over the eight".

All very amusing, but how it was supposed to sell beer I'm not quite sure.

Anonymous said...

Probably like the Guinness surfer ad and Christmas ad it didn’t help sales.