This week in London - Beer advertising's razor sharp message

James Bunn
By James Bunn | 30 April 2021
James Bunn

As 2021 progresses through Q2, inevitably COVID fatigue is setting in.

The top business schools teach us that recessions are an invaluable time to turn headwinds to our forward advantage. Pitfalls lie ahead for the unwary however.

This week, Heineken spoke volumes with the simple words: “Don’t drink and start a league.”

As always, beer advertising was razor sharp and on message. It was as salutary as drinking and driving for the billionaires, bankers and insurance partners suffering from impaired judgement. Their European Super League breakaway, entirely underestimated grass-roots football support. Perhaps they thought no-one was watching, but those stratospheric broadcast rights fees should have been a clue. I’m sure I’ve seen that movie before, in my youth – Rugby League in Australia, wasn’t it?

That’s the trouble with “bouncing back better” or “springing forward” during a recession. It may come to look great in the soft glow of hindsight, but at the time there’s really not much to go on. Hard data on which to base analysis is thin on the ground. Inevitably then, the ill-informed, inexperienced, unlucky or just plain cocky, are liable to score some own goals.  

Another brand to gain exposure through the lockdown TV bounce-back was Megxit. Her chat with Oprah pulled-in 11Million UK viewers for ITV and a minor ratings boom extended for a few days when Piers Morgan fell-out with a weather presenter, over it. It settled the reality TV camp, where covid travel restrictions are said to be forcing producers towards a new (G)love Island variant which could be a great sponsorship vehicle for local cool climate holiday advertising. Eventually, everyone came back down to earth, over on the BBC. There, the beautifully poignant funeral for HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh attracted substantially more viewers than “Megan’s truth,” a few weeks earlier.      

As PM Boris Johnson said “we need to be humble in the face of nature” and that sounds like good wisdom in these tough times around the world. Westminster has now finally matched Canberra’s border quarantines at Heathrow Airport. It’s 12 months on and counting, since covid reset the world. Reports in The Times, noted that “at least eight private jets” helped the “super-rich” to race back to Luton to meet Friday’s 4am UK-Indian border closure.

Clearly innovation has shown a positive path towards the next industrial revolution. Deliveroo’s float exposed their dark kitchens and low pay model. But the world watched with admiration and baited breath as Australia’s Government took on Facebook. Amongst other things it has shone a positive light on Australia’s confident expertise across the tech and media sector.  

The Oxford-Cambridge Arc with London at its centre is widely regarded as one of the world’s great centres of excellence in so many high-tech fields. Westminster sees this Arc as a critical engine, driving growth as the world builds back better post-coronavirus. The Indo-Pacific region, anchored by Australia is seen as home to the world’s fastest growing “middle class” which will create enormous demand for products and services through the roaring ‘20s. When the world’s leaders sit down at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay in June, the Australian and British governments plan to announce a significant free trade agreement between the two nations. It is seen as absolutely key to Britain and its friend Australia’s, post-Brexit prosperity.  

Hope is increasing that Australia could in turn form a key connection to the Oxford-Cambridge arc through a secure air-bridge for business with the UK. The Qantas direct repatriation flights have acted as a proof of concept for direct flights between London and Darwin. This innovative approach avoids the complications of flight connections and almost entirely mitigates covid health risks with this direct air-bridge.

This week, The Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan MP, made just such a whistle-stop trip to London from Canberra. He said of the free trade agreement, “it brings innovation with it, brings technological advancement with it and once again, most importantly, creates jobs” Britain’s International Trade Secretary Liz Truss MP predicted enormous growth across the board from a very low base of 5-10% of companies who currently export. Tehan went on to conclude: “…The economic weight of the globe has shifted to the Indo-Pacific and there’s a real opportunity for the UK and Australia to build a very strong partnership…”

James Bunn, London


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