Focus South West: A decent proposal

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Related tags: Wadworth 6x, Beer, Wadworth

There comes a point when every old swinger looks in the mirror, sees those dyed locks, that gold medallion and the skin-tight trousers and realises...

There comes a point when every old swinger looks in the mirror, sees those dyed locks, that gold medallion and the skin-tight trousers and realises that trying to be sexy just isn't sexy any more.

Something similar is happening to Wadworth 6X. A few years ago the cask ale swaggered into the Great British Beer Festival and turned not a few heads with its risqué punning 6Xy campaign.

It helped to stir up a debate about just how far a traditional product should go to jazz up its image. But now the brand is slowly, you might almost say demurely, turning through a full 180º to reinvent itself as 'The thoroughly decent pint'.

Back in the sleepy market town of Devizes, Wiltshire, where 6X has been brewed for 80 years, the official line is that 6Xy was always intended to be a short-term 'cut-through' campaign. But Wadworth marketing director Paul Sullivan admits "we were going uphill with that one".

"We need to reposition the brand and move away from 6Xy - 6X just isn't sexy! The 6X drinker is a solid citizen, mature and polite. 6X needs its own persona to pull this concept of decency together."

'The thoroughly decent pint' label is a reference to both the beer and the drinker. It has a copy line designed to appeal to a primary consumer of premium cask ale who is male, 30-plus, ABC1 and heavily engaged with food, flavours and quality, regionality and crafted products. It also reinforces quality cues that find their roots in the Devizes brewery.

In short, Wadworth has looked in the mirror and seen that ale is a more mature drink with an older consumer base - the kind of thoroughly decent person you would want to have a drink with down the pub.

Pursuing the 6Xy campaign would have increasingly given the brand less relevance for the brand's target market.

Another factor in Wadworth's about-turn is, of course, social responsibility and the current regulatory climate. Not even the most tongue-in-cheek campaign can feel safe talking about sex these days.

Over the next 12 months the new message of decency will be communicated through materials in pubs such as bar runners (pictured below) and beermats, reinforced by a slow-drip PR campaign revolving around etiquette - or 'netiquette' as it will be known in its web-based versions.

"It's like being a poacher turned gamekeeper for us, a bit like a government U-turn I suppose," says Sullivan. "But we think it's more engaging - and a decent, upright image might even make the 6X drinker feel super-sexy!"

Related topics: Beer, Spirits & Cocktails

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