Magners profile

By The Drum, Administrator

September 7, 2006 | 6 min read

A time to say

Anyone who enjoyed a tipple or two in this summer’s blistering sunshine will almost certainly have been tempted to have a Magners... over ice, in a pint glass, of course.

Drinking cider with ice is nothing new, but Magners has turned it into its trademark, so much so that the pouring of the golden liquid into the ice-cube-filled glass has become more than just a prerequesit, but “a bit of theatre” too.

Magners was launched in Glasgow in 2003 having successfully launched in Northern Ireland as a brand in 1999 - marketed across the Irish Sea as Bulmers [the company owns the brand name for outside of the UK].

Last year, it moved south of the border and, already, its popularity has been mirrored in England in the short space of time since launch.

Single-handedly Magners has rejuvenated the cider category in the UK, with nearly 45 per cent of the share of cider sales.

“It has stimulated a category, and a very prominent category at that,” says Joanne Haydon, marketing manager for Magners. “Cider is one of those categories that, without the investment and without a clear leading product within it, it would have remained dormant. It’s similar to what happened in Northern Ireland. It created and stimulated a category and it has grown that category. Obviously there will be brands that catch the wave as the market is growing and Magners has been accredited with rejuvenating the market and rejuvenating the consumer reappraisal of cider in general.”

The push of Magners as a summer drink has been so successful, especially the image of the product poured over ice, that other brands are pushing the same idea to promote their own product, boosting their sales too.

“The over-ice pour is something that was unique to the brand,” says Haydon. “Consumers really embraced that when we launched into Scotland. It’s something unique for them to do and it’s a refreshing alternative as well.”

The advertising and promotional activity has driven the ‘perfect serve’ take up.

“Our advertising and promotional strategy has resulted in consumers reappraising cider, losing the negative baggage,” says Haydon. “Of course, the advertising has been very focused on the main DNA of the brand – that it’s natural, its heritage, as well as the tradition and the time that goes into making and producing the product. Those are all values that are portrayed in everything we do, in our TV, in our radio and our sponsorship. It’s a consistent and coherent message.”

The company’s ‘Seasons Two’ campaign launched this year, the aim, to create a synergy of what’s happening in the orchard and what happens during the year in the bars. The summer campaign takes viewers through the orchard, and shows the apples being gathered, and then into a bar scene.

Haydon is quick to point out that the brand has been a success in whichever country it’s sold. “It’s been successful in Northern Ireland, and right across Great Britain, not just in one marketplace,” she says. “Magners has been so successful in Scotland because consumers were tired of the range and the choice that was there in the market. Magners provided them with an alternative. It’s not just an alternative drink, though. It’s one that brings a lot of values to which drinkers aspire to.”

The move to target consumers in a new way has led to Magners looking at sponsorship. This year Magners sponsored the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, with the PR being handled by Edinburgh-based Elaine Howie PR. “Being associated with the likes of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival fits very well with the brand,” says Haydon. “We’re looking at other opportunities around the arts and comedy that might be good for us to use. Comedy is another property that the brand owns with the Bulmers International Comedy Festival every year, which is establishing itself as one of the leading international comedy festivals in the market,” she says. “Last year we had the likes of Ricky Gervais, Lenny Henry and Bill Bailey performing, while this year we’ve got Little Britain, and other headlines acts such as Jimmy Carr. Comedy really gives us another platform to use to widen the consumer profile, and allows us to recruit outside the sports arena too.”

Magners has long been involved in sports sponsorship in its native Ireland, under its branding of Bulmers.

“Our association with sports has been one that has been established for quite a time,” says Haydon. “We have trade associations with the Golf Union through Bulmers in the South of Ireland and links were then developed in the North of Ireland, sponsoring the North of Ireland Championships. There are a lot of male consumers aged 30-35, associated with the sport. Through sponsoring sports, like golf, you can widen the consumer profile and bring those people on board through the associations - and they are largely long alcoholic drinks consumers.”

Haydon explains that a focus on sports sponsorship does not mean its aim is to promote itself as ‘a man’s drink’ only, believing that if it is aimed at a male audience, the female consumers will quickly follow suit. “If you target females specifically, you turn men off,” she says. “By targeting males, females will follow. Our advertising isn’t male dominated in any respect, and a lot of women follow golf. There are a lot of women who follow rugby too.”

Magners recently signed a deal to sponsor the Celtic League - the professional club rugby league for Scotland, Ireland and Wales - now the Magners League. WIth the launch of the new season imminent, a new ad campaign has been released to promote the sponsorship.

“It fits perfectly in that it’s a refreshing drink following a match. It also matches the consumer profile for the sport. Rugby isn’t mainstream; it’s an up and coming sport. A lot of people are buying into rugby now. It’s one of those sports that has, itself, been rejuvenated. It’s becoming a sexy sport to be involved in. The football market is a bit more cluttered with alcohol sponsors too. We saw an opportunity with rugby and the Magners League gives us an umbrella right across the North and South of Ireland as well as Scotland and Wales. The Magners League is a big one for us, there’s a lot of potential there. There will be a lot of leveraging plans through out the year with the league.”Since its launch, with the now famous ‘over ice’ commercials, Magners has rejuvenated a staid cider market. Stephen Lepitak talks to Joanne Haydon, Magners’ marketing manager about the brand’s plans.


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +