John Smith's: Smithy the Horse

Agency name: Space
Client name: Heineken UK
Category: Innovative Idea or Concept


John Smith's is the UK's leading ale brand and has a proud history of horse racing sponsorship that goes back over 50 years, including the John Smith's Grand National, which the brand had sponsored for the previous 4 years. Horse racing is a sport that connects with the target audience, greater than any other. For the past 3 years John Smith's had run a campaign called the People's Race, giving consumers the chance to race at Aintree racecourse on Grand National day.

In spite of excellent media value and awareness, there was an issue - the race didn't cater for the John Smith's audience to participate. The traditional John Smith's drinker is larger than a jockey and older than most sportsmen. In essence the campaign worked for the sport, supporting young jockeys, but it didn't engage or connect with the drinker.