Stella Artois has long been one of Britain’s most successful beer brands. But it hasn’t always been plane sailing. It has gone through several periods of decline.

We got involved during the last one. Another agency had been involved. A repositioning was planned. The ad agency wasn’t sure that was right. They suggested we have a look.

We did some analysis and we noticed that a lot of the brands drinkers weren’t like the target audience. And we mean the majority, not just the tail. And the target audience was the commercial target audience, not the caricature of the consumer that the creative work targets, as can sometimes legitimately be the case.

And so we did some more work and we redefined the target audience rather than the proposition.

But along the way we saw that some aspects of the brand activity wasn’t as good as it should have been. And everyone had lost confidence in the positioning and was expecting a relaunch.


Cheltenham race course. Scene of one of the 30 conferences

And so we embarked on a programme of ‘organisational alignment’. Thirty conferences followed by workshops took place across the UK, each of 150 people. All 4,500UK staff went to them. We used our ‘brands are like people’ model to explain what a brand is, how consumers form their impression of them and what every employee can do to ensure their brands success. Every individual identified actions they could take to ensure Stella Artois success, which we re built into appraisals and bonuses. Some of the ideas became sources of revenue, some were very simple, but if enough people did them, they would make a difference. A receptionist in a depot said when she went shopping she would turn all the Stella Artois labels straight and turn all the other brand to the bar code!

The conferences and workshops were described as “the best work event I’ve ever been to”. Even the Marketing team said it and taught them to think about managing brands in a much clearer way.

But best of all, Stella Artois returned to growth.

Skills and services: Consumer engagement planning, Organisational alignment, Training