Yesterday, I received the latest Point of Sale kit from Kronenbourg, including some new glasses, some beer mats for the table, some bar runners, a bunch of cubes to dot about the place, and some blurb about the "quality and heritage of this great liquid."
Now, I quite like Kronenbourg, so I immediately opened the box and read the spiel like the good little consumer I would have been if I didn't own a pub.
And, I must admit, I get a little excited about Point of Sale material. Years ago, I used to manage a computer store, back in the day when Windows 3.11 ruled tiny little CRT monitors, and I have to confess the thought of arranging the different POS trinkets would make me feel all warm and fluffy inside.
I would happily spend hours merchandising my store, moving boxes around and arranging end-of-aisle Point of Sale. Woe betide any member of staff who would grumble under their breath about having to face-off the latest product from Dr. Solomon's.
Not much has changed: today, I like to make sure the POS in my pub is arranged properly, staff are encouraged to focus on those products and I always look for ways to run promotions on whatever brand I might have POS promoting at the time. I'm always careful not to overdo it, though - I wouldn't want the pub to look as tacky as a Christmas Tree bearing one too many baubles...
So when I opened the box of goodies from Kronenbourg, I immediately started planning where I could use the flat-pack cubes to their best advantage. Unfortunately, one thought kept running through my mind: what marketing madman decided that it would be a good idea to make everything white?!
White is good for making items stand out from the crowd, especially when it's put in blatant contrast to, say, Jack Daniel's POS. White posters stand out on the walls. White cubes stand out on the windowsills. Even white beer mats on the tables make people take notice; they might look tarnished after a bit of use, but that's okay because they're cardboard, and therefore disposable.
But who thought it was a good idea to provide rubber-backed, felt-covered white bar runners? Clearly, whoever came up with this idea didn't think about what happens on bar tops. Bars get spilled on, dripped on, dribbled on and they have crisps crumbled on them.
Bar runners have to cope with all this. Sure, white ones might capture a customer's eye in the same way that Jordan has captured the front page of The Sun, but within five minutes they are as dirty and stained as a teenager's secret stash of magazines and, by the end of the day, they're as fit for the rubbish bin as the cardboard beer coasters.
Smirnoff once supplied us with some similar bar runners. They looked great on day one, but no amount of washing, wiping or generally trying to avoid drinks getting spilled on them could stop them from quickly turning grey and devaluing the image we are trying to display as a professional, clean outlet - let alone the crisp, clean, triple-distilled image they were hoping to convey.
Within days, these runners were relegated to protecting storage shelves in the corridor behind the bar, rather than promoting the product they were designed to.
I fear a similar fate will befall the Kronenbourg bar runners. So please, marketers, think about where you're planning on your Point of Sale appearing. It's a lot of money you're spending by giving us material to push your product - the last thing you want is some publican coming up with an analogy about a jungle contestant, pubescent teenagers, and magazines they hope their mum won't find.
And then chucking your material in the bin...