Adnams Pt 2: Words

Agencies and clients generally shack up together after a single blind date, (or a pitch, to give it its technical name.)
As a result, the relationship is a marriage of convenience – “Do you, Least Bad Agency In The Process,  take you, Client Who Needs To Look Like They’re Shaking Things Up?”

But when an old flame comes back, the dynamic is different, you feel you have to do everything you can to justify their decision.
Or at least I did when this happened back in 2009.

I got a call from Andy Wood, formerly Adnams Marketing Director, now their C.E.O. and top chap.
He talked fondly of the old Beer From The Coast campaign we’d created together.
adnams illustrations_001

Then he told me that their marketing had lost its way a bit in recent times, research had said people saw them a bit like a Volvo, reliable, trustworthy, but boring.

He shared some of their most recent ads.
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 18.42.25

Adnams %22Boatbuilder%22 Ads,Refreshing-01Adnams %22Boatbuilder%22 Ads,May Days-01Adnams %22Boatbuilder%22 Ads, Rich & Fruity-01Adnams %22Boatbuilder%22 Ads,Spindrift-01Adnams %22Boatbuilder%22 Ads,Regatta-01 Adnams %22Boatbuilder%22 Ads, Bitter-01Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 18.47.25Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 18.46.40
The only positive I could find was that they consistently featured generously proportioned pictures of a pump clip, which would be lapped up by all those pump clip fans out there.

He was reluctant to jump back into producing more Beer From The Coast work, as it felt like a backwards step.

I told him I’d mull the problem over.

What to do?
The Beer From The Coast campaign was pretty well-known, so it felt wrong to completely ignore it and reinvent the wheel, maybe we could evolve it?
I remembered when we were writing the first campaign a planner had argued “brewing beer next to the sea doesn’t actually make it taste better”.
Maybe we should lie and say it does make it taste better?
If done in a tongue in cheek way it could be cool? e.g. Each pint contains special pockets of unique Southwold Sea Air.
It would be a kind of USP, (or Unique Selling Point for all you post Ting Tings generation.).
It could give Adnams a bit of attitude,  make them more contemporary.
Less Volvo-ey.

I emailed Andy a couple of concepts.
Adnams %22Fresh Air%22 Pitch ads 4-01Adnams %22Fresh Air Pitch ads 3-01Adnams %22Fresh Air%22 Pitch ads 2-01

He liked them.
But there was a problem, the idea was too beer focussed.
The Adnams of 2009 was different from the Adnams of 2002, it had diversified, they now distilled Whiskey, had a growing number of stores, hotels, wine departments and all manner of brand extensions.

All these different parts of the business looked different too.
We’d need to unify them.
But the messages would be quite diverse, ranging from ‘30% off Rioja’ to ‘Weekend Hotel Breaks’ to ‘New Store opening’ to ‘Mayday Bitter is back’.
Given the range and type of messages we’d need to cover, words seemed to be the only way to go.
We’d need to create a distinctive voice to make it feel like one brand.
The most successful ‘voices’ tend to feel true to the company.
Baked Bean companies that talk like street pimps or Banks that talk like they are your oldest friend don’t tend to hang around for long.
So what truths could be used to build Adnams voice?
We put together a presentation:
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 19.39.09 Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 19.39.28Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 19.40.03Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.14.25Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 19.39.48Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 19.40.18      Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 19.41.10Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 19.41.28 Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 19.42.17  Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 19.41.45 Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 19.42.37    Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 19.38.05Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 19.38.48Adnams Avenir Chat -01

This theory was bought.
But what did it mean in practice?
How would it look?

I liked the idea of using recycled papers as backgrounds, to look home-made.
I felt photographs of beer would look too corporate.
Photographs of products can look cool, graphic, vibrant and powerful.
But they rarely charm.
We just need to find the right illustrator…ooh, there he is, sitting on the other side of the office;
Simon Barna, the dude on placement. He could draw…

Could he draw a pint of beer?  Yes.
We used a single font in the initial poster roughs…
Broadside new label v3-1-01
…but it felt a bit formal.

Maybe we needed to be more playful and mix up the fonts?
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.19.36Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.15.27Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.16.01Adnams, Oyster Stout-01Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.15.47Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.19.24Adnams, Irish Stout -01   Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.19.09  Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.17.58Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.18.53 Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.17.38  Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.18.42Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.18.30   Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.16.41   Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.16.29 Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.16.13 Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.18.17 Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.16.53 Adnams, Diamond Ale Poster %22Biscuity%22-01

I was happy with the tone of the words.
They weren’t overtly selly,  so felt like they were talking to an intelligent, sophisticated audience.
The tone was kind of ‘We know that your too intelligent to trick, so we’re just going to joke around with you about the merits of a particular beer, then you buy what the hell you want to buy. It’s no skin off our nose.”
It made Adnams appear confident.

The various recycled paper backgrounds worked well, giving the ads a homemade, environmentally friendly feel.

Changing the font from beer to beer gave each beer its own flavour, BUT it just made the campaign feel erratic.
We’re supposed to be unifying.

We needed to give ourselves stricter guidelines:Adnams Branding

Which makes them look like this…
Adnams Beer Posters%22East Green%22-01Adnams Beer Posters %22Tally Ho%22-01Adnams Beer Posters %22Oyster Stout%22-01Adnams Beer Posters %22May Day%22-01Adnams Beer Posters %22Lighthouse%22-01Adnams Beer Posters %22Spindrift%22-01Adnams Beer Posters %22Bitter%22-01Adnams Beer Posters %22Broadside%22-01Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.02.54Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.13.03Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.08.44Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.21.07

We needed a book to tell the Adnams story.
I chose an illustrator to help make the content more charming; Nicholas Saunders:

I liked his naive charm and homemade vibe.
Nicholas got his coloured pencils out and started drawing.
The cover…
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.12.14

…I wrote a manifesto for the intro page, then Nicholas brought it to life..Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 18.48.16

Some of the illustrations in the book were also turned into ads, like these:Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.24.41Adnams, %22Red, White & Rose%22-01Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.25.14

We needed a section on ordering beer online.
I thought it would be cool to have a picture with bottled beers hidden within it, and titled ‘where to find our beer?’,
a bit like a kids book.

Spot the beer-01

Nicholas’s first rough looked good…
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.09.54

…but maybe it would be better if it wasn’t confined to a street?Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.09.23

Also, maybe we could rehash that ‘coastal air’ idea?
Mr Blue Sky'tif-01

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.29.43

We re-skined their site.
Changing it from this…
Adnams webpage
…to this…
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.05.30Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.05.20Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.04.28Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.05.08Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.04.43

We colour coded the Adnams tours.
Producing these cool enamel badges, given to anyone who took a tour.
BadgesAdnams BadgesScreen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.16.22

Adnams Seasonal Cellar Wine Club didn’t appear to stand for anything.
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.23.28

We gave them a point of difference.
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.23.43

We made the brewery an Instagram/Facebook/Pinterest photo-op.d7056e7721a6197be1d85f59fb42fc65d16fc192d78c456861d6df05444da50cb1a60f01d0084c2334f069883a351288aaeeebe8481b05cd16b33d442aa4066b

We used boxes as ad space.
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.37.29

Lorries became moving 48 sheets.
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.07.066c275f119bc9d1f64c5085e4112d481dScreen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.26.37

We took our new voice in store.
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.18.19Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.17.17Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.17.54Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.30.11Adnams, %22Jars%22 ad-01Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.31.18Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.33.34Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.32.07ADN000 A1 SEMI PERM POSTERSv2.indd

We let people know about awards…
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.08.15Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.18.09
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.28.57Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.31.48Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.28.25

…links with Latitude…
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.34.54

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.34.33Adnams Cask Bar-01

…and an ever-growing range of beers…
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.36.01Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.59.12Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.15.05Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.32.56Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.35.31Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.34.04Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.29.22

One of the least used, most read bits of media; the humble beer mat…beer mats one
Adnams Beer Mat %22Local Ingredients%22-01 Adnams Beer Mat %22Yeast Older...%22-01

beer mats three

beer mats two

beer mats four

We created a sub brand and it’s packaging; Jack Brand.
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.15.26adnams-innovation
Three years in Adnams was beginning to seen as being cool.

But, and we should have guessed it given their environmental policies, Adnams decided to source their creative work locally.
It’s understandable, after all they now had a template to copy, and agencies in Suffolk tend to be cheaper than those in Soho.

Is it worth paying writers to find an angle on a new message when we could just say it?

Is it worth paying for Art Directors to Art Direct each execution when we already have a style to copy?

Is it worth debating with an agency about what they want vs what we want?

Is it worth listening to an agency push us to be ballsy when we don’t always want to be?

Is it worth arguing about whether the layout is cleaner without the extra info?

Is it worth having to listen to the agency wang on about which is the wittier execution?

Well, on the evidence of their recent work, below,  I’d have to say…








But then again, I’m  horribly biased.


poster-s244823d6180607742d6ec96e682d5187photo 2

21 thoughts on “Adnams Pt 2: Words

  1. …don’t you wish you’d made it look a bit more complicated with lots of pretend scientific charts to back it up?

    • Hey Mark, I guess you mean on the first ‘Southwold Air’ stuff? I didn’t really think of it at the time, but I guess you could go that route, (I know you love a pie chart.)

      • ….what I meant was, if you hadn’t made the whole creative process so easy to understand, the client might not have moved the business. (I’ll try drawing a picture next time).

      • Oh I see…yeah, you’re right, I’ve come unstuck a few times with that, if you come up with campaigns that are simple and make sense they look like any idiot could do them, so it raises the question ‘If any idiot could do it, let’s get cheaper idiots.’

        But in a funny way I think the example is a good ad for our business, because they both ingredients:
        1. Recycled backgrounds.
        2. American Typewriter Font.
        3. The same illustrations.
        4. Cyan and Magenta ink.
        5. Headlines.

        Choose certain words and arrange the elements one way and Adnams appears cool, choose different words and arrange the elements another way and they appear naff.

  2. superb stuff!
    you even persuaded them to use illustration not their “real” packaging which can be really hard in FAB category.

    btw, is there a typo in Explorer poster? “cholestrol”.

  3. Can I just say I love this blog? A living, breathing reminder of why I’m in the ad business (apart from the whole “getting paid” thing).

    • Hey Phil,
      Thanks for the comment.
      I wanted to put some positive stuff out there, I think there’s lots of andlookatthishitaddonebyidiots@wordpress type blogs out there.

  4. So far the best source I’ve found for learning d and ad. Maybe I’m missing something? Anyways, thanks for taking the time to make them, it’s highly appreciated.

  5. thanks dave. it’s a really good read. i am just wondering whether the beginning of your manifesto is a reference to bill bernbach?

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