Cheers! A history of beer brands in Creative Review

From Heineken to Stella, John Smith’s, Guinness, Carling and Carlsberg, some of the greatest British advertising has been created for beer brands. We look back through our archive for the pick of the pints

Creative Review’s digital archive contains every issue of the magazine, from 1980 to 2018. Over that time, we have covered all the major trends in creativity, including the biggest ad campaigns.

In terms of creativity, beer brands have consistently produced work that has entertained millions and shifted a lot of pints. In our December 2002 issue, we asked ad legend Tim Mellors why this was.

“Most advertising creatives are suckers for creating advertising for products they like themselves,” he told us. “In the less fitness-obsessed and less abstemious days when I started in the business in the 70s, all creatives drank for Britain and smoked like trains. So, given a brief for drinks and smokes, we attacked it with the same enthusiasm we brought to our vices.”

Mellors cited Terry Lovelock’s “Refreshes the parts other beer cannot reach” for Heineken as “the most famous advertising line ever created in the English language”. “Of course, on close examination it’s nonsense, but, by drawing on his life experience (few people were more refreshed than Lovelock in the 70s), Terry created an oblique but powerful property for Heineken that defied both research and the reality of Heineken’s lack of differentiation from other lagers,” Mellors said.

We told the story of the line in our February 2012 Slogans issue – along with 19 other gems. “Normally you get a brief that’s a few pages of information, but on this occasion, all we got was a piece of yellow card that said ‘refreshment’. That’s what they wanted to convey: refreshment…,” Lovelock told us. “After about six weeks, I was ready to chuck myself out of the window, because I didn’t think of anything original enough to say.” The line eventually came to him at 3am one night when he was on location in Morocco for another ad and he wrote two scripts based on it straightaway.

From our Feb 2012 Slogans issue
Alan Waldie looks at some of the brilliant illustration used on ads such as Heineken, CR April 1982
John Hegarty profile, June 2011

Such brilliant lines were a feature of the great beer campaigns, whether the Cream of Manchester for Boddington’s (reflected on by John Hegarty in our June 2011 profile), Stella Artois’ Reassuringly Expensive (Stella actually used to run double-page ads in CR – they obviously knew their target market!) or Good things come to those who wait for Guinness.

As you might expect, we have covered Guinness extensively over the years, from the likes of Stanley Penn who wrote some of the brand’s earliest ads, to the Dream Team of Walter Campbell, Tom Carty and Jonathan Glazer, who made Swim Black and Surfer for AMV. In June 2001, we looked back at all the great contemporary work for the brand, talking to the key creatives involved.

And talking of greats, few in advertising were more fitting of that epithet than the late John Webster who was the genius behind the long-running John Smith’s campaigns. John wrote a piece for the very first issue of CR and was the subject of one of our Heroes profiles in our November 1999 issue.

Interview with Guinness copywriter Stanley Penn, Nov 82
On the set of Swimblack, June 98

But advertising has moved on from the days of some of these great commercials: a shift that we have reflected in the pages of CR where, for example, AKQA’s Star Player app for Heineken which introduced a fun gaming element to Champions League TV coverage indicates the multitude of new possibilities for brands in the area.

And of course, we have also covered beer from the design side, whether packaging, branding or even product design – we even had a widget on the cover once!

Feb 95 cover, featuring the revolutionary widget
AKQA’s Star Player app for Heineken, CR Annual, May 2012
Examining the impact of new ‘premium’ beer brands, Feb 94
Jones Knowles Ritchie for Budweiser, May 2017
Beer brands historically had some of the best copy lines ever written, but what of today? In our May 16 issue Nick Asbury bemoans the journey that has taken Stella from Reassuringly Expensive to the clunky Be Legacy

This is just a small taste of all the beer-related content in CR over the years. CR subscribers can now access the entire archive of all our print issues, from 1980 to 2018. Details on how to subscribe to CR here


Milton Keynes