Racy ad campaign sends ale sales soaring

A SEXY advertising campaign has helped send the sales of a Suffolk beer soaring by 22%.Bosses at Greene King say the advert for its famous Abbot Ale – which depicted a young woman lying in bed gripping the sheets in both hands behind her head – played a crucial role in the hike.

By James Mortlock

A SEXY advertising campaign has helped send the sales of a Suffolk beer soaring by 22%.

Bosses at Greene King say the advert for its famous Abbot Ale – which depicted a young woman lying in bed gripping the sheets in both hands behind her head – played a crucial role in the hike.

But they insist the raunchy campaign – aimed at Sunday supplement and men's magazines such as GQ – was not the only reason for the welcome boost in sales.


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Sue Thomas-Taylor, marketing director with the Bury St Edmunds-based brewing giant, said the decision to give the "grumpy old cleric" formerly associated with Abbot Ale the boot and replace him with a slick new "golden" image had also been a key factor.

But it is the image of the woman gripping her sheets, coupled with the slogan, 'Some things get better given longer", which has stuck in many minds, she admits.

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"We did nothing to the beer – we always believed it was underselling itself. In terms of what we were trying to do, we felt the advert worked. Advertising in these publications often involves striking photography and usually depicts beautiful people in beautiful settings.

"If we had put the grumpy old cleric in that kind of context then no doubt it would have failed completely."

Ms Thomas-Taylor said the advert reflected that Abbot was still an "awesome" beer while making it stand out from the crowd as never before.

And she said controversy created by the advert – it attracted complaints to the advertising watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) – was never justified.

She said the slogan alluded to Abbot Ale's longer brewing time and the ASA found no grounds for upholding the three complaints it received and the advert was not withdrawn – backing the firm's belief that the advert was not in any way offensive.

The marketing director said the campaign paid off handsomely: "We are very pleased with the results of the strategy – particularly against a market that's in decline."

And the racy image, along with a brand new advert, could be used by Greene King to push Abbot Ale even higher in the popularity stakes.

Ms Thomas-Taylor said a new advertising campaign would get under way next month: "Abbot Ale is currently the number three premium ale in the country but although it's now on sale in most of the big supermarkets nationwide it's not on sale everywhere.

"There is still considerable opportunity for growth. We just need to keep concentrating on the quality of the product – making sure people want to carry on drinking. The quality is the key."

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