beer business

Sail & Anchor’s slow rebrand

I really don’t know what Woolworths is doing with its Sail & Anchor range. It’s like they decided to have a beer label but then didn’t really know what to do. There just seems to be no consistent approach in terms of marketing.

They started things off really badly with some of the most unappealing labels I’ve ever seen.
In case you have never seen them, here’s what they looked like.

Sail and Anchor-ugly
Ordinary, right. For mine the Steamrail series from supermarket rival Coles left these for dead.

The beer itself wasn’t anything great either. It was entry-level craft but other creators like James Squire and rival supermarket chain Coles brand Steamrail did much better.

Then they did something surprising with Sail and Anchor. They started launching seasonal beers. And not just crap either. They started off with an imperial stout – a beer solidly aimed right at beer geeks. Then they put out a barley wine and an IPA that took me a while to warm to. The final beer was a collab with Karl Strauss in the US.

It was a great idea poorly executed. It was like they applied the ‘‘go big’’ supermarket logic and decided to flood the shelves with them, when any half-decent beer geek could have told them scarcity is the key – make it hard to get.

After that Karl Strauss collab, the limited releases just disappeared. It was as though they’d gotten sick of doing it and just gave up.

Then all that was left to represent Sail & Anchor were those unappealing brown labels. Until now – because Woolies have gone for the rebrand. They’ve kept the same bottle shape but changed the labels, so now they look like this.
wpid-img_20150301_144721.jpg

Now that looks much better. It would actually make me want to pick some off the shelf, whereas the old labels made it look like some cheap-ass beer.

But it seems changing the labels is all they’ve done. The beers still taste pretty much the same. I asked on their Facebook page whether the recipes had changed too or were they the same old beers in new clothes. I got no reply, so I think it’s safe to assume it’s the same old beers.

They taste like the same old beers to me. Well, with the exception of the IPA, which I’ve spent two weeks looking for and can’t find anywhere.

Which is another flaw from Sail & Anchor – they rebrand their beers but don’t get the stock out there. One BWS I went to had nothing but the pale ale, another two had none of them (and my local Dan’s still doesn’t have any).

One BWS I found had the golden, pale and amber – but no IPA. So here’s a label undergoing a rebrand, telling people to go out and try the beers, and you’ve got people unable to find them. Not good. If I wasn’t a beer geek I’d have given up looking for them after a few days.

By the way, the place offering three of the range didn’t have any mention of the deal where you get two mason jars if you buy two four-packs. Now I’ve got no time for mason jars but, on a marketing angle, if you’re going to promote a giveaway, it helps that all the bottle shops THAT YOU ACTUALLY OWN are onboard with what’s going on.

In closing if Sail & Anchor are looking for a slogan, may I offer ‘‘tastes ordinary. Can’t find them’’.

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2 replies »

  1. Maaaate!! You can’t tell if the recipes have changed by sampling the beers, you need Facebook to tell you?????

    The Sail and Anchor offerings make anything from James Squire taste anemic, except for maybe JS’s latest ‘Hop Thief’ which promises much on the label but doesn’t quite deliver, its not bad though I wouldn’t part with my cash when there are other far better offerings in their price range.

    I’ll opt for a Boa’s Bind or Larks Foot over any Squire or Steam Rail offering any day or night and I will be happily tucking into a couple of the new Sail & Anchor IPA’s tonight.

    “Because friends don’t let their friends drink JS.”

    • As I said, with the exception of the IPA, they tasted the same to me.
      But I opted to ask the makers as to whether the recipes had changed. Not sure why you have such a problem with that.
      if you like the S&A beers, that’s fine. To each his own – I don’t much care for them at all.

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