Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Confused Carling Quits Old Firm


One of my vestiges of Scottishness is that I buy Scotland on Sunday, the Sunday paper of the Scotsman Group every week. I usually get round to reading it sometime towards the end of the week, but had read it yesterday, apart from sport and business. I read them this morning over a pot of tea. The business section was headlined by the news that Molson Coors is ending its £2.2 million a year, seven year sponsorship of Rangers and Celtic. Paul Miller, director of sales for Molson Coors Scotland, said Scottish legislation was "difficult to understand" and interpret.

It seems this relates mostly to promotion and sales of the ubiquitous lager, predominantly in the off trade, but in pubs as well, as Scottish Government legislation disallows promotions that encourage increased drinking. Bit of a bummer that for the promotions team, I'll bet. A perplexed Miller said "that the group struggled with the impact of promotion of alcohol in "on trade" pubs. If a promotion offers someone a free pint of beer, is that encouraging someone to consume more than they would otherwise consume? I guess the answer would be yes. But curiously, to the letter of the legislation, it doesn't. That is the difficulty, to understand what can and can't be done. The important thing for us is we don't contravene the spirit of the legislation."

Well Mr Miller, I'm no lawyer but I'd have thought the important thing is not to break the actual law. The law's spirit is quite a different matter, but nonetheless, it's a point that does have some resonance. When CAMRA offered its 50p off a pint Wetherspoon's vouchers to members, initially they were not valid in Scotland until advice was sought, so it isn't straightforward. Of course you could just be a cynic and reckon that after seven years, Coors had got all it could out of the deal and has decided that blaming the law is a little easier than to say that we've had enough and that no-one much in Scotland drinks Carling anyway. (Tennents has 55% of the on trade and over 60% of the off). I can't find figures for Carling.

Mr Miller also took the opportunity to confirm that Molson Coors supports minimum pricing, following some inaccurate press reports that they did not. A spokesman for the Scottish Government said its policies on minimum pricing and the promotion of alcohol were "not mutually exclusive" and its legislation was "not anti-alcohol". So there you have it.

Oh and guess who is sponsoring the Old Firm now? You are way ahead of me aren't you? It's Tennents Lager of course. Tennent's Irish owner C&C said it was confident its approach to sponsorship was in line with government objectives. So there.

My thanks to SoS for this interesting piece. Click the title to go to their report.

17 comments:

The Beer Nut said...

Having just one company on the shirts of the Old Firm is really odd. You see pictures of brick-throwing kids in Belfast and expect a caption reading "This riot was brought to you by NTL/Carling/Tennents".

The 'gers are going to look like eleven cans of Super on legs now, aren't they?

Curmudgeon said...

It's hardly surprising that major brewers don't oppose minimum pricing, as it will effectively allow them to operate an anti-competitive price fixing cartel, something that currently is distinctly illegal.

Velky Al said...

It could be something of a moot point when Rangers go bankrupt in the summer!

Tandleman said...

Forecast? They won't!

Barm said...

Given that Carling has just signed a deal to sponsor Scottish rugby, I think we can safely say that the "we don't understand weird Scottish laws" reason given is complete rubbish. More like they don't want to waste quite so much sponsorship money in a market where they're not number one and probably never will be.

Beer Nut, you can't sponsor one team of the Old Firm and not the other. You'd become "the Hun lager" or "the Fenian lager" forever. Even the little stalls at Glasgow's Barras Market that sell sectarian memorabilia understand this rule of marketing and wisely stock flute band CDs representing both "traditions".

The Beer Nut said...

Hence the old George Formby number back in Celtic's CR Smith days: "When I'm Fenian Windows".

Cooking Lager said...

I suspect you are right in regard to the true motivations of Coors and am pleased that Scottish cooking lager enthusiasts maintain an appreciation of their own fantastic lout. Cooking lager aficionados do not drink the advertising but appreciate the delicate understated flavours of a familiar brew, keeping a quality lout like Tennents at its deserved place as No1 Jock Lout.

Velky Al said...

Do they still sell "genuine stolen Marks and Spencer's T-Shirts" in the Barras?

RedNev said...

I had to look up what the phrase "Old Firm" meant: both teams collectively. Good job Wikipedia is always right.

Barm said...

Velky Al, I have no idea. You can get crepes there nowadays. Changed times.

Philip said...

Not surprising

Kristy McCready, Molson Coors Brewing Company said...

Hi Tandleman,

Good piece and one that's made me put my corporate hat on!!

I'd like to set the record straight on the piece that ran in Scotland on Sunday. Sponsorship of the Old Firm gave Carling great momentum when it entered the Scottish market in 2002 and was always due to conclude at the end at this SPL season in May. Scotland on Sunday were wrong to suggest we were ‘dropping’ the association over confusion about Government policy misrepresented both our position on sport sponsorship in Scotland and our relationship with the Scottish Government.

Carling is a major sponsor of sport in Scotland and is now entering a new phase which will see Carling continue to support Scottish sport through a number of new investments – one of which is our new partnership with Scottish Rugby. More. We are committed to encouraging people to enjoy great beer responsibly and to providing choice for Scottish drinkers.

At Molson Coors we recognise that respect for alcohol is essential to beer’s proper, responsible enjoyment and believe that price, brand-building and education each have key roles to play in achieving this and are happy to look at whether it would work as part of a wider set of initiatives to reduce alcohol harm.

Cheers

Kristy

Velky Al said...

Crepes in the Barras? Please tell me McTuckey's Chicken hasn't gone to the wall!!

Tandleman said...

Kristy. Maybe someone should have told Mr Miller. Or have SoS got it completely wrong, quotes and all? It seems a bit odd he didn't just say, "we only ever had a seven year deal and now we are moving on to rugby". But it seems he didn't. Bad form.

My readers will make up their own minds.

RedNev said...

Now, would Kristy lie to us?

Tandleman said...

I suggest no such thing RedNev, but maybe they need to all sing from the same hymn sheet?

Barm said...

Giving Coors the benefit of the doubt, it wouldn't be the first time a newspaper got something wrong.