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Diageo extends Christmas focus across winter

Published:  02 September, 2011

Diageo is moving its focus away from Christmas-themed advertising and promotions in favour of capitalising on the occasions when consumers drink from as early as September and right through to the New Year.

The drinks giant believes there is a £100 million opportunity for spirits sales this winter and that a growing number of consumers are lengthening the period that they drink in the run-up to Christmas.

"It's not about taking away the impact from Christmas - it's recognising what we use to call Christmas is a whole season of occasions that starts with things in Halloween," Andy Adams, channel director for grocery, told Harpers.

"Customers are enjoying multiple at-home occasions the whole winter season. We are for growth over winter, not just Christmas," added Louise Brunt, head of category development.

This year Diageo is investing over £45 million in customer and brand activity throughout autumn and into winter. The spend will include a through-the-line marketing campaign designed to encourage customers to see spirits as relevant for a range of seasonal, at-home drinking occasions with straplines such as "take home the prefect party guests this Halloween".

In a bid to extend the traditional Christmas season, new Baileys flavour Biscotti will be launched in September - six weeks earlier than last year's Hazelnut variant. It will have an investment of £1.6 million specifically earmarked to promote it.

An online Facebook promotion will also see Diageo give away 200,000 samples of the new Italian-themed variant, which will replace Baileys with a Hint of Caramel. Baileys Original will be backed by a £2.5 million campaign, including TV and digital ads running with the tagline Add a Little Something, in-store and event sampling, and PR activity.

More than £7 million will be pumped into marketing Smirnoff, with a focus on the Nightlife Exchange Project which will encompass events in 50 countries worldwide, compared to 18 last year. A social media campaign to find a backing dancer to accompany Madonna on her next tour will also form a chief part of the activity.

The range of Smirnoff Flavours, which according to Diageo is the fastest growing category in the whole of BWS, will be bolstered with the launch of Vanilla Smirnoff. The new variant is made with natural vanilla flavourings and will be supported by a heavyweight outdoor ad campaign running in October.

The firm has also pledged to provide 65% more pre-filled display solutions than last year, with the roll-out of 1,500 moveable, permanent units on wheels that display bottles of soft drinks alongside spirits with security tags.