Brand Barometer - Artois is brewing up something good

Beer brand drops Stella in bid to rid itself of "wife-beater" tag and sees immediate rise in popularity.

For years, InBev has marketed Stella Artois as an expensive, high-quality beer. The ads have been shamelessly highbrow, imitating sophisticated European art-house cinema; it has sponsored independent filmmakers. Even the slogan tried to mark the drink out as something special - Stella Artois was "reassuringly expensive".

Yet, the public image of Stella has gradually headed in the opposite direction, becoming associated with loutish behaviour and earning the unfortunate nickname of "wife- beater". It reached the point where a Brighton judge complained that two words he heard far too often in his courtroom when dealing with drunken louts were "binge-drinking" and "Stella".

InBev has tried to distance itself from the problem, insisting "successful brands are often blamed for social problems; in reality, the minority who cause problems due to excessive drinking are an issue for society as a whole".

However, it has obviously recognised the potential image problem and has decided to rebrand the beer as just Artois. The first ad with the new branding broke at the beginning of November. The style remains consistent with its old advertising, done in the style of European cinema without any dialogue, in this case showing people in a pub, presumably located in some rustic European backwater, passing things on to one another in exchange for glasses of beer.

The only change is that it is now advertising "Artois" and where it was once reassuring expensive, it now represents "generations of care handed down in every glass" and encourages us to "pass on something good".

We can't expect the "wife-beater" image to disappear overnight, but the early signs from the new ad are positive, producing a boost in Artois' recommend score from +10 to +14 and a large jump in its quality score, which rose by eight points to +25.

They were both temporary boosts, but so far the rebrand looks to have gone down well.

Methodology: YouGov interviews 2,000 people each weekday to form its BrandIndex, a daily measure of public perception of more than 1,100 consumer brands across 32 sectors.

It is measured on a seven-point profile:

1. Buzz

2. General impression

3. Quality

4. Value

5. Satisfaction

6. Recommend

7. Corporate reputation

In addition, we supply an index score.

- www.brandindex.com.

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