TV network

Beer stores get new visionOntario's 438-outlet Brewers Retail beer stores are being readied to receive their own in-store tv network.Larry Bleau, president of the Creative Solutions Group in Toronto, which developed the Beer Entertainment Network - ben - says a six-outlet...

Beer stores get new vision

Ontario’s 438-outlet Brewers Retail beer stores are being readied to receive their own in-store tv network.

Larry Bleau, president of the Creative Solutions Group in Toronto, which developed the Beer Entertainment Network – ben – says a six-outlet test should begin this week.

And by the end of May every beer store in the province should have its own 28-inch color tv monitors and vcrs running tapes offering entertainment and advertising, Bleau says.

He says the likely location for the monitors will be suspended over the cash registers.

Each in-store tv system will have an audio sensor to adjust the monitor’s volume, depending on how busy each store is, he says.

A typical tape on ben will run about 20 minutes and have a 50-50 advertising-to-entertainment split, Bleau says.

He says advertisers committed to ben so far are in the movie, fast food, auto and auto aftermarket, sporting goods, sports event, building supply and motorsport categories, although he declines to name the companies

He says programming will lean towards sports highlights and bloopers, home repair tips and other typical male-oriented fare.

Rick Hodge, a sportscaster with Toronto radio station chum-fm, has been hired as ben’s ‘on-tape’ host.

Bleau says the order of commercials on ben will be set at random by the Creative Solutions Group, which will try to keep category competitors apart, although it cannot be guaranteed.

A new tape will be produced every month, although advertisers can change their creative every two weeks if they wish, he says.

Tod Willcox, marketing services manager for Brewers Retail, says research shows customers want some diversion when they go to the beer store.

According to Brewers Retail figures, the average purchase time in a beer store is six to seven minutes.

And, says Willcox, the network is another step towards giving Brewers Retail a more retail-oriented image that is in keeping with the 1990s.

Brewers Retail already sells caps, T-shirts, bottle openers, coolers and other beer-related paraphernalia in some of its outlets.

Brewers Retail is the beer retailing monopoly in Ontario, with headquarters in Mississauga.

It is privately owned and operated by Labatt Breweries, Molson Breweries and Sudbury-based Northern Breweries.

Bleau says it is only a matter of time before other in-store tv networks start up in Canada.

In the U.S., he points out, such networks – sometimes called place-based advertising – are well established in clothing chains, sporting goods outlets, doctors’ offices and Sears department stores.

Not all such ventures are successful, however.

Ted Turner, the Atlanta, Ga.-based cnn mogul, recently unplugged a tv network he had set up in supermarkets.

Bleau says one reason why the network came unstuck could have been the fact its tv monitors were located at the checkout since buying decisions were made elsewhere in the store.

He says the primary target of ben is men aged 19-49, with the hard-to-reach 19 to 29 group emphasized. The legal age to buy alcohol in Ontario is 19.

According to Brewers Retail figures, there are seven million beer purchasers in Ontario, 5.5 million of them men.

The elusive 19 to 29 group ben seeks represents 36% of the market, or 720,000 customers a week, says Brewers Retail.

The 30 to 44 group represents 43% of the beer market, or 860,000 customers a week.

More than one-third, 37%, of ben’s audience will be in the Golden Horseshoe, that stretch of the province bordering Lake Ontario from Niagara Falls to Oshawa, says Brewers Retail.

Another 27% of ben’s viewers will be in southwestern Ontario, 17% of them will be in eastern Ontario and the final 19% in the north.

Bleau says he is selling ben on a very low cpm base compared with other media, and will not discount from there.