Drinks trade looks beyond "pink pound

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Related tags: Guinness

Guinness has said it is not simply targeting the "pink pound" by becoming a sponsor of the annual gay festival Mardi Gras. For the first time, it was...

Guinness has said it is not simply targeting the "pink pound" by becoming a sponsor of the annual gay festival Mardi Gras.

For the first time, it was one of several brands involved in the event in London, which attracted 85,000 people on Saturday (June 30).

But a spokeswoman for Guinness said it was not part of a new marketing drive aimed specifically at gay consumers, who are estimated to have a disposable income in the UK of over £8bn a year.

"Guinness saw it as an opportunity for them to target its core market of 18 to 34-year-old males," she said.

Other drinks brands to sponsor the event were Bulmers' Strongbow, Budweiser, Halewood International's Red Square and champagne Piper-Heidsieck.

Pub and bar operators also backed the event, including the Kudos Group and Bass Leisure Retail, which owns nearly 30 gay pubs and bars in the UK.

Guinness sponsored one of the more sophisticated stages, which featured cabaret, salsa, the London Gay Men's Chorus and classical pop plus more quirky acts such as Eastern European folk and line-dancing mice.

Strongbow brought its Loafing Lounge, with DJs, an underlit dancefloor, an inflatable tunnel and Playstation pods. It also sponsored a music stage organised by indie club night Popstarz, with acts such as Gaydad, EMF, Rialto and Gene.

Halewood, which also supplied its Red Devil energy drink and Ursus vodka for the event, opted for a more old-fashioned image - it sponsored a cabaret stage with drag acts including the Boy George Experience, Maisie Trollette and Lola Lasagna.

Wine and spirits group UDV, which is due to merge with Guinness on Tuesday (July 3), is known for developing specific campaigns for brands such as Smirnoff and Tanqueray.

In the past, companies have been accused of patronising or exploiting gay consumers through gay-oriented campaigns.

Marketing consultancy Porter Novelli Countrywide helps brand owners to navigate this minefield with its specialist arm Scene.

Consultant James Kelly said: "With six million gay people in the UK, there's a lot of money washing about, but it's not just a cash cow that can be milked for easy money. It's patronising to think that gay people can be exploited."

Related topics: Beer, Wine, Cider, Ready to Drink

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