Can new owners boost McEwan's?

By Greig Cameron on Oct 4, 11 12:08 PM in food and drink

When a new owner takes on an iconic brand thoughts quite quickly turn to what will happen next.

Under the control of Bedford based Wells and Young's it would appear McEwan's will be given a bit more attention than it was in the Heineken years.

The independent brewing firm seems a more natural home for the likes of 80 Shilling and Export than the vast machine of a multinational drinks company.

The new owners have promised "significant" investment in marketing and are in the process of setting up a dedicated Scottish office.

All well and good.

I wonder however if the famous Laughing Cavalier which adorns McEwan's ales could be on the way out.

Although the brand is still strong (a long association with Rangers means generations of Scots wore the lager logo on their replica sportswear) it does suffer from certain perception problems.

Even back in the later 1990s when I was taking my first legal alcoholic drinks in pubs McEwan's was seen as something of an old man's tipple.

I don't see that situation has changed much even if my palate is a bit more receptive to it now.

The most recent advertising campaigns hardly suggested a drink which had found a comfortable niche in 21st century Scotland.

I'm not suggesting all the history and tradition of the brand needs to be ditched.

But one way to generate publicity and buzz around the beers would be by offering a modern revamp of the brand and by association the packaging.

Wells and Young's have a varied portfolio - including Red Stripe, Bombardier, Kirin Ichiban, Young's and Courage - with a range of marketing strategies at work.

I'm sure they won't lack for ideas and will have a clear vision mapped out.

They wouldn't have spent the money - understood to be several million pounds - otherwise.

So at a time when Scotland's craft beer scene is flourishing - Brewdog, Innis and Gunn, Arran Brewery, West, William Brothers and Inveralmond to name just a few - it will be interesting to see how one of the old stagers progresses with new blood driving it forward.

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