BWS launches multi-million dollar local campaign

Bottle shop chain BWS is investing in a nationwide multi-million dollar campaign on behalf of local independent craft beer, wine and spirits producers.

The ‘Local Luvva’ campaign has seen more than 600 billboards and digital screens rolled out across the country, as well as social media and radio ads.

Willie the Boatman, Cheeky Monkey, BentSpoke, Heads of Noosa, Black Hops, Your Mates, Aether Brewing, Six Strings, New England, Ballistic Beer, Philter and Blasta Brewing are just a few of the breweries that are being featured in the campaign.

BWS local manager Richard Mok explained that the support customers had for local during the tough times of the first COVID-19 prompted the latest campaign.

“A couple of months ago when COVID started taking over our lives, [bringing local producers on board] was an overnight hit for some of these small suppliers,” Mok told Brews News.

“So we went to the IBA, the Australian Distillers Association and Australia Grape & Wine and said we’re here to help.

“We have a fast-track programme where we welcome all different suppliers, even if they’d never spoken to us before, and look at listing their beers locally. We were doing a whole lot of work with these suppliers and hearing some great stories.

“Every small independent supplier has a unique story and we decided that we needed to tell customers about this, what we’re doing and where you can get these products.

“We want them to support these producers just as much as we do.”

IBA general manager Kylie Lethbridge said that the organisation, which counts 313 Australian breweries as members, appreciated the support in these difficult times.

“All our brewers have struggled with some major setbacks this year, particularly those in regional areas, so we can think of nothing better than to share a love of local indie beer – now more than ever,” she said in a media statement.

BWS campaign supporting local

Mok explained that the campaign was part of an ongoing BWS strategy to support local producers.

As part of this push, BWS has recently called for independent producers and their fans to nominate their favourite products to go in the running to be ranged in stores, and has been an ally to local producers during the COVID period.

Parent company Endeavour Drinks Group reduced payment terms across BWS and Dan Murphy’s to 14 days to assist small suppliers affected by COVID-19 back in March, and an earlier campaign to get more local suppliers on board at the beginning of COVID lockdowns led to them bringing a further 200 suppliers on board.

“We’ve always been looking at local ranging,” he said. “We want to stock small, independently-owned breweries, distilleries and wineries because as craft beer customers we know it’s in demand and on trend.

“We want their product to compliment stores in the same geographical location – if they’ve got a following and those loyal customers, we want to make sure we have their beer stocked in their closest store.

“For the bigger brands that are still small and independent where there’s a lot of affinity for the brands over a wider area, we want to make sure that whilst it might be in Brisbane for example, if they have to capacity to deliver up to Noosa or FNQ then we want to give them the option to do that.”

One of the breweries which is benefiting from the marketing spend is BentSpoke.

“We love seeing our BentSpoke BWS ads displayed all over Canberra,” said Richard Watkins, co-owner and head brewer at BentSpoke in a media statement.

“2020 has been a difficult time for many small producers first with the bushfires and then Covid-19. We hope this campaign reminds people to buy and support local brands,” he added.

Choosing the brands

The move marks a shift from normal marketing activities in which partner suppliers are usually asked to invest in the marketing themselves.

BWS is footing the bill for the campaign according to Mok, in a welcome move for brewers and other craft producers who have been and continue to do it tough during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

But deciding who would be featured was a tricky decision, he said.

“It was hard not to include everyone,” Mok explained. “We thought about where the media was going to go – what are the geographical pockets, who would be the most relevant for those areas and was there anything particularly unique about those suppliers.

“Every supplier could fit the bill but obviously if we were investing in those areas we wanted to make sure they were stocked in a lot of stores in that area.

“Everyone’s doing it tough and every little bit we can do helps.”

Endeavour Drinks’ strategies appear to be working, and it reported a quarterly revenue increase of 9.5 per cent year-on-year to $2.3 billion recently. This covered the very early stages of lockdown as sales surged, with fourth quarter results covering the full lockdown period expected in the coming months.

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