Apple juice alchemy
Few in the drinks industry can have been unaware of Irish cider Magners (actually called Bulmers in Ireland to add to the confusion) marching across the pubs and bars of this island. Cider had long been the domain of tramps into fast oblivion, youths looking for the same (as my scarred liver can well testify), or eccentric gourmets. I’ve long since realised that the cider typically available in pubs is designed for palates that are literally retarded. Nonetheless, I’ve always enjoyed the farm based stuff when you can get it and the lovely Breton variety available at Green and Blue while ignoring the rest. The luck of the Irish was to suggest people serve the stuff over ice (as City Spy noticed this actually appears as an idea in Withnail and I) and to very, very slowly let it percolate about influential spaces with little marketing effort until recently. It’s worked a treat. Everywhere you go people are knocking it back apace. I still think its a crap drink, but…
…No-one in the UK seems to have been able to imitate its success, which must be galling. I recall seeing some icky stock photo enhanced advertorial in the Metro a while back for ‘Strongbow Sirrus’ which looked sort of red and also was to be poured over ice while found in ‘cool bars’. If you have to say that, it probably is to be found in no cooler a place than Wetherspoons. Not to mention that the brand sounds like an anti-wind pill, novelty energy drink or a variety of other non-cider products. More recently, I have noticed a me-too ad campaign promoting ‘Gaymers Original’, a re-branded product designed to look like a twin of Magners. A lot of media has been bought around London, but the ads themselves are transparent imitations of Magners’ fresh yet dull formula. Photography that looks like something out of a late 90s corporate brochure accompanies the idea that a sip of characterless, mass market cider on ice is ‘As good as it gets’ for aspirational drinkers.
What a waste – surely there are other ways to respond to market changes than just chasing the leavings of another brand? Maybe try something more elegant?
I’ll stick with the Breton stuff myself. Maybe someone should put some of that behind the bar? Hmmmm….