Stella Artois is hoping to capitalise on the surge in consumer demand for trusted brands with the temporary return of its classic ‘Reassuringly Expensive’ tagline, as it celebrates the reopening of UK pubs.

Stella Artois will be celebrating the limited reopening of UK pubs, bars and restaurants this month with a new campaign that builds on a growing nostalgia for the brand, while seeking to support staff in the hospitality sector.

The ‘Stella Tips’ campaign is looking to rally support for hospitality staff hit hard by lockdown restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic by giving a £1 tip for every pint of Stella sold for a month from 12 April, with £500,000 available for the scheme. More than 12,000 hospitality staff are expected to benefit.

A national campaign will air on TV and outdoor sites to support the initiative, which includes edited highlights from Stella Artois’s advertising back catalogue and marks a temporary return of the ‘Reassuringly Expensive’ tagline familiar to older drinkers.

Stella Artois marketing manager Patricia Garcia tells Marketing Week that the reopening of on-trade venues is a big moment for all drink brands.

“It has been a tough year for the industry, for the staff, for everybody. Stella is our biggest brand in the UK, both in the on-trade and the off-trade, so we were thinking of what we could do to celebrate that moment,” she says.

However, the Stella Tips campaign is intended to go beyond brand building. “We wanted to do something more meaningful, a gesture that was more meaningful than just ‘We’re back’,” she says. “It’s a small gesture from our side, but it’s an idea to show our appreciation for the bar staff and to welcome them back.”

We’ve seen really positive results over the past year in the off-trade. Everybody has been going back to trusted brands.

Patricia Garcia, Stella Artois

The return of ads and taglines from the last millennium marks a conscious decision to build on consumer nostalgia for a less complicated age – and arguably for the heyday of Stella’s marketing – while celebrating the return of more typical social activities.

The brand has created a montage to celebrate the return to the pub, using scenes from five vintage ads. Bringing these ads back required some older footage, created and stored on film, to be digitised.

“The nostalgic moments can put a smile on your face,” adds Garcia. “The music plays an important role. It evokes really good memories.”

Despite the trip down memory lane, the ads sign off with the current messaging of the ‘The Life Artois’ brand platform.

The company hopes to capitalise on Stella’s position as AB InBev’s biggest beer brand in the UK. The business has experienced a significant sales boost in the off-trade channel driven by a desire for familiar, established brands.

“We’ve seen really positive results over the past year in the off-trade. Everybody has been going back to trusted brands,” says Garcia.

Why Stella Artois is focusing on ‘art, not advertising’ as it looks to drive reappraisal

With change in the air, Stella also wants to encourage a more open attitude to tipping among UK consumers, who are not always known for their largesse while at the bar.

“We see this as just the start of a movement. Anybody who wants to join us, show their appreciation and wants to tip – and feel comfortable tipping – then why not? It’s about coming together to support your local community and pub,” says Garcia.

This approach fits with the brand’s wider push to be relevant to meal and social occasions as part of its The Life Artois platform. The brand is, for example, looking to make a push into foodie culture by opening a chain of own-branded restaurants. The first of the Frites Artois restaurants opened in Colombia last month, with plans afoot to bring the concept to the UK.

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