Promoting the Pint: Ale and Advertising in late Victorian and Edwardian England
By Jonathan Reinarz
Social History of Alcohol and Drugs, Volume 22, No 1 (2007)
Abstract. According to historians, most nineteenth-century brewers did little to promote sales of their product, few alcoholic drinks having been widely advertised by their manufacturers. In general, it appears most English brewers believed a good product was their best form of advertisement. Despite not pursuing bold advertising strategies, many English brewers appear to have relied on indirect or “below the line” methods of advertising, some of which are still employed in the marketing world. Although most brewers continued to register their addresses in trade directories and regularly place notices in local newspapers, many also realised the commercial value of a strong public role, often spending far greater sums on community events than on printed publicity. Viewed in this way, nineteenth-century brewers displayed more creativity when it came to advertising their wares than they have been given credit for by the trade’s historians.
Introduction: According to historians, most nineteenth-century brewers did little to promote sales of their fermented products. In fact, few alcoholic drinks appear to have been widely advertised by their manufacturers. Not surprisingly, the popularity of certain ales was more often described as the result of chance or even accident rather than well-conceived business strategies. Over the years, such arguments have retained credibility due to the fact that most brewers seem to have advertised only in newspapers. Moreover, usually such publicity is not regarded as a conscious attempt to attract public attention, for it was generally limited to a few lines and meant to inform customers that the latest brewed products were ready for public sale. As a result, historians more often describe these notices as information rather than advertisement. In general, it appears most English brewers believed a good product was their best form of advertisement.