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Award winning pubs – count us in!

A night of celebrations, fizz, canapés and Walkers crisps – where do I sign up?! Last week was the National Pub & Bar Awards at BAFTA, run and hosted by Pub & Bar Magazine. I was delighted to attend this awards do with a difference – it reflects the pub industry perfectly, it was relaxed and fun. An hour of awards and then back to drinks, nibbles and networking. Our client Walkers was a proud supporting partner, setting up a Walkers Max Strong bar to tempt publicans to try its latest innovation for the pub sector. Designed to complement different types of beer, they went down a treat!

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The event’s beer partner was Budweiser and the brand made the most of the night by using it as a platform to launch its latest activation for the pub channel, helping publicans increase footfall and sales during the World Cup. Not only has the beer brand tied up with the MatchPint app to encourage football fans to watch games at pubs with exclusive Budweiser offers – using geo-targeting so that you can find a pub near you; it has also announced an exclusive competition for the on-trade. Ten pubs across the country will receive a sound monitor and compete to see whose punters cheer the loudest throughout the football competition. The pub with the loudest fans will win a cash prize.

Not only does this activity engage publicans – important customers for Budweiser – but it supports the on-trade channel at a crucial time. People might think that the World Cup will guarantee pubs will be bustling, but a pub’s success during the tournament depends on so many factors – the weather, how long England stays in and what time the matches are on. Eight years ago saw The Morning Advertiser report that it would be supermarkets and takeaways reaping the benefits of the World Cup as 80% of people planned to enjoy the games at home. In 2014, London pubs were disappointed when TFL decided it wouldn’t be extending Tube opening times on the days of the World Cup’s later matches. Brands will tell publicans that sporting events and tournaments are a great opportunity to drive sales because they are; but pubs need the support of these big name brands to make sure the industry is front of mind with consumers.

The pub channel is a key area for Walkers and we’ve previously worked with the team there to develop the Walkers Pub Quiz campaign. The aim was to showcase how publicans can maximise customer engagement, snack sales and footfall by running a best-in-class quiz. The campaign launched via a live pub quiz to key media and a toolkit was available for pubs to download with advice, ideas and quiz questions. Over 4,000 toolkits were distributed and this lead to sales leads for 18 major pub groups for Walkers. It was a great success and is a brilliant example of how to support this channel with bespoke activation.

Last week saw pubs from across the country awarded for outstanding service, food and drink and winning a National Pub& Bar Award can be extremely good for business. Those pubs have worked tirelessly to get where they are today and particularly in the context of an industry that on average saw 18 pubs close every week due to high beer duty, rising business rates and VAT. It’s a sad reality and something suppliers should bear in mind. Particularly in the out of home market, a one size fits all approach to campaigns won’t work – tailored activity, competitions, advice and new products will help support publicans. The calibre of pubs from the National Pub & Bar Awards certainly inspired me to help our clients continue to do just that in the future, and hopefully it also inspires landlords and pub owners to continue working hard to achieve their goals.

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