McEwan’s has landed a contract to supply its new amber and signature bottled ales to supermarket giant Sainsbury’s as owner Wells & Young’s gears up to spend “the most money in 20 years” to promote the historic beer brand in the run up to Christmas.
The two beers, which were initially developed for Tesco, will go on sales in Sainsbury’s Scottish stores in March.
Amber and signature, a darker ale, are the first two beers to be developed by McEwan’s since it launched its “Red” session ale in April.
Wells – which bought the McEwan’s and Younger’s brands from Heineken in 2011 in a deal believed to be worth £18 million – has snapped up television slots to advertise McEwan’s Red on STV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 in the run-up to Christmas.
The Bedford-based company has also splashed out on billboards and advertising on the side of taxis in Edinburgh.
The cost of the campaign is believed to be running into several million pounds.
McEwan’s has also launched a social media drive, promoting Red on Facebook and Twitter with the help of London-based digital agency Tug.
Peter Mooney, the newly appointed general manager at the McEwan’s Beer Company, told Scotland on Sunday: “This will be the most money in 20 years that has been spent promoting McEwan’s.
“We want to grow in Scotland first then take the advertising into England and beyond. There are big international opportunities for McEwan’s brands.”
Mooney remained tight-lipped over the exact amount McEwan’s is investing in its Christmas push, but he said it was more than was spent on the advertising for the £4m McEwan’s Red launch. Wells – which brews beers including Courage, Directors and Waggle Dance – spent £5m last year promoting its Bombardier beer as the sponsor of the Dave television channel with advertisements featuring actor and comedian Rik Mayall.
McEwan’s Red, a 3.6 per cent strength session ale, is aimed at “younger and more-affluent” drinkers aged 25-45 who identified McEwan’s Export as “their dad’s beer”.
Mooney, who acted as a consultant to the company for the launch of Red before joining full-time, said that McEwan’s “heritage” beers – including Export, 60/-, 70/- and 80/- – had enjoyed a sales boost on the back of the new ale.
Red’s television advertising – which was designed by Leith-based agency The Union – premiered during STV’s coverage of the Uefa Champions League football final in May and is currently being screened throughout the UK on Sky Sports channels.
Younger’s traces its roots back to 1749, while McEwan’s began brewing in 1856. Both brands were cornerstones of Scottish & Newcastle’s empire, which was broken up by Heineken and Danish brewer Carlsberg in 2008.
In February this year, Wells brought Younger’s Tartan Special back to the off-trade by starting to sell the beer in supermarkets.