Agency: Lowe Howard-Spink Author: Robert Heath

Stella Artois: Reassuringly Expensive


Throughout the 1980s, when lager brewers were spending millions on ever more lavish TV advertising campaigns, one brand pursued an altogether different route. It religiously eschewed the bright lights of TV in favour of a low-impact press advertising, and ran its own style of confident, at times, arrogant copy, proclaiming of all things how absurdly expensive it was. Many must have expected the brand to be consigned to a minority existence in the ever-expanding, highly competitive premium lager market; to their astonishment it not only assumed brand leadership, but holds that position even now.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Stella Artois had all the ingredients of a brand-leading lager, yet its sales performance was sluggish. Volume grew only in line with the market, and its share was 6% and slowly declining. In 1981, Whitbread moved the advertising account to newly-formed Lowe Howard-Spink, who realised that what the brand needed was a phrase which could unite the various aspects of the brand's appeal and act as a catalyst to drive the brand forward. This phrase was: