Do InBev realise what they're doing, with the forthcoming launch of Stella Black, their new 5.5% "aspirational" lager? Have they thought through all the unfortunate implications of the name?
Now maybe it's not planned as a "session" lager - but either way, if you're trying hard to shed the 'wife-beater' image associated with Stella, surely you'd think twice about launching something even stronger than Stella, that could so easily be nicknamed "black and blue"?
In fact, Robert Bruce, a spokesman for InBev told the Independent last year, "It's gone too far. There's a real risk in the way 'wife beater' has been associated with Stella Artois of undermining the issue of domestic abuse." Hmmm.
Name it "gold", name it "white" - just anything other than black or blue, surely? OK, so I expect it's only going to launch in bottles in trendy bars, but I wonder how long before those volumes don't do quite so well, so it inevitably hits the draft pumps.
In this day and age when Government has got an ever-beedy eye on the responsible marketing of booze, and InBev have very public about trying to shed the "wife-beater" image, I wonder if this name might in time, turn out to bite InBev on the arse.
Or even punch them in the face.
UPDATE 15/9 - it's in the comments, but thought it deserved an airing on the post.
Hi Chris, I represent Stella Artois at Edelman. I read your post and wanted to share InBev's statement on the 5.5% story to clarify the situation:
"As you would expect from the Nation's No 1 lager in the UK, InBev is constantly looking at a number of product innovations. However InBev UK categorically denies it is launching any variants of Stella Artois at a higher ABV than currently available."
So either Marketing Week are making the whole thing up, or... I don't know what. Either way, their story looks to be pretty well (and double) sourced to me.
Sources also add that Stella Black will be made available exclusively at top premium outlets and aimed at “opinion formers.” The launch is expected in the first half of next year and InBev is already understood to be planning an experiential sponsorship programme to support it.But hey - we've all been stung by dodgy and unfounded (though well-sourced) leaks in the past, and a company the size of InBev (or InBev UK) - hmm, I wonder if there's a subtle international distinction here which would explain a lot - simply would not countenance anything other than a totally transparent and honest statement. So I believe them. And also, simply because I really really want it to be true.
Though I would dearly love to know when the decision to NOT launch any higher-ABV brand in the UK was taken.
p.s. Fair play to Edelman in responding to this in the comments so promptly. Shows an agency genuinely working for their clients' reputation across all media. When I expect they've also got their hands full dealing with "traditional" media on this issue too.