The future of Bass Brewers' much maligned Vodka Hooch brand appears bleak after the company launched a new range of competitively priced flavoured alcoholic beverages (FABs) into the on-trade.
Mark Hunter, Bass' marketing director, announced that the company would no longer be providing advertising or promotional support for Vodka Hooch, with focus switching to its Reef brand and the new three-flavoured "Different World Drinks" range (pictured).
Following its launch in 1995, which heralded the birth of the now defunct "alcopop" sector, Hooch bore the brunt of the subsequent consumer backlash and since then has struggled to compete with the next generation of premium packaged spirits such as Bacardi Breezer and Smirnoff Ice.
Mr Hunter said: "Hooch was annihilated in the media and it was seen as the 'spawn of the devil!' It has proved very difficult to deal with that level of sustained negative publicity and, as such, the focus on investment will now be on Reef which is competing for the number four slot in the FAB market."
Mr Hunter added, however, that trials of Hooch on draught within student union venues were still on-going.
The "Different World Drinks" range, Siberian Ice, Cuban Fire and Amazon Mist, will be introduced as part of Bass Brewers' plans for the Christmas period and is designed to enable licensees to provide a profitable alternative to the mainstream premium brands.
"The FAB market is starting to polarise with a gap emerging between the premium and competitively priced ends.
This new range will give consumers more variety and enable licensees to generate extra profit," said Mr Hunter.
Meanwhile, Bass has earmarked April 2002 for the launch of Fat Apple, a premium packaged cider, and Cru, a "champagne-style" bottled lager, following their successful regional trial.