Beer looks familiar

Consumers will have deja vu when they see the advertising campaign for Dave Nichol's Personal Selection draft beers, the most recent entrant in the private label beer market.Launched by Dave Nichol and Associates last month, the four varieties of draft are...

Consumers will have deja vu when they see the advertising campaign for Dave Nichol’s Personal Selection draft beers, the most recent entrant in the private label beer market.

Launched by Dave Nichol and Associates last month, the four varieties of draft are being offered up in a manner eerily similar to the way Nichol pitched President’s Choice while president of Loblaw International Merchants.

Nichol, president of private label bottler and manufacturer Cott since October, established Nichol and Associates in partnership with Cott to develop and market new food and beverage products.

Most confusing for the consumer will be the television advertising for Dave Nichol’s Personal Selection, which is virtually identical to previous advertising for all President’s Choice products.

Nichol is again the pitchman seen on camera, shot from a slight angle favoring his right profile, and with a small still of the product in the upper left corner of the screen.

Unlike his previous President’s Choice commercials, Nichol does not share the screen with his dog.

Says Len Kubas, retail and marketing consultant with Kubas Consultants of Toronto:

‘One of the dilemmas whenever you’re selling a product that is so closely related to an individual is that there is blurring of the product and individual.’

‘The entire pc advertising program over five to seven years had been highly personalized by Dave Nichol as the president and the spokesman,’ Kubas says.

‘It stands to reason when he’s promoting his own brand of beer, and doing it on television, that you can close your eyes and think you’re back with pc again,’ he says.

Newspaper ads for the Personal Selection brew feature visuals of the product, which are strikingly similar in packaging to that of pc (President’s Choice) Light Draft launched by Nichol two years ago.

The dn logo and pc logo look the same because both were created from Nichol’s signature.

Packaging and labelling for dn mirror the color and font used by pc because all were created by The Watt Group, a division of Cott.

The print ad also features a ‘Dave brand’ identity, a small picture of Edible Man, Nichol’s biography, beside the body copy of the ad, which is in script and signed by Bill Sharpe, president and chief executive officer of dn brewer Lakeport Brewing.

Hamilton-based Lakeport is 90% owned by Cott and brewed pc draft until just before Nichol joined Cott.

Labatt Breweries of Canada then signed a licensing agreement to brew and market pc.

Eric Dingman, brand manager for pc draft at Labatt Breweries, says Nichol is gambling on the fact that the association with pc will pay off for him.

‘He is clearly pursuing a strategy of replicating the pc product, and hoping the consumer will be confused and buy Dave Nichol,’ Dingman says.

Dingman feels that strategy may backfire and benefit the pc brand because Nichol’s face was identified with pc for 10 years.

‘People know and trust pc, and may think he’s still with pc,’ he says.

‘There’s a risk anytime you pursue a copycat strategy. There’s a good chance you’ll come in second when you choose not to do something original, and go after your own piece of ground.’

Dingman says although created by Labatt agency Bozell Palmer Bonner of Toronto, all advertising for pc draft will continue to have the same look and feel as other pc products.

‘We need to be mindful that it’s part of a family of other products,’ he says.

Bill Sharpe, head of Personal Selection brewer Lakeport, does agree there are some similarities in the packaging of the two brews.

But, Sharpe stresses Lakeport has been careful in packaging, registration of trademarks and in advertising that Personal Selection was in no way passed off as pc.

The advertising approach will remain unchanged and Sharpe does not see any risk in using Dave Nichol because of his past association with pc.

‘I think, over a period of time, if there’s any confusion, it will clear up in the near future with the amount of advertising we’re doing,’ he says.

Sharpe points out that sales of Personal Selection have gone well.

‘That tells me that the confusion out there is not with the average consumer,’ he says.

A Lakeport survey of more than 200 Beer Stores has shown that people are asking for ‘Dave’s beer ‘and ‘Dave Nichol’s beer,’ and that may have an impact on how its marketed in the future.