The company has seen its Magners sales halve since 2006 but now they’re inching upwards again, vital for C&C as Magners’ premium margins through the on-trade contribute significantly to its profits.
C&C switched Magners from Euro RSCG to The Red Brick Road last year and CEO John Dunsmore says his instructions to the agency were to avoid the danger of “fuelling the category rather than the brand.” Euro RSCG’s ads featured a horde of cider-drinking bright young things with a syrupy Ian McShane voiceover. The Red Brick Road has gone for dollops of understated Irish whimsy.
Dunsmore says this campaign, on which it spent around £10m, has led to a “hockey stick turnaround,” a phrase that evidently owes something to the sage of Farm Street, WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell, who famously once referred to a “bath-shaped” recovery from recession. I think Dunsmore means sales stabilised and then started to recover.
C&C’s road back to growth was also helped by selling the William Grant whisky business and buying Gaymers, which owns Dry Blackthorn and Olde English cider, taking its share of the UK cider market from ten to 25 per cent. The company also bought Scottish beer brand Tennent’s Lager.
As for The Red Brick Road it needed a big winner after its top team, led by Sir Frank Lowe, split from Lowe Group with the Tesco business four years ago. Lowe has now retired but throughout his career he has overseen some vintage examples of understated English humour (not least for Tesco) and now his former agency has scored with an Oirish version.