Entitled Race Car and featuring the Thatchers “spokesperson” first introduced in the Somerset cidermaker’s 2017 Hot Air Balloon ad, the commercial follows an unexpectedly slow race car driving through some iconic West Country landmarks.
Expected to be seen over 30 million times in live rugby during the first two months of the campaign alone, and in total seen by ¾ of the adult population, the TV commercial’s message to viewers is that Thatchers is totally uncompromising about the quality of its cider – if something’s not perfect, it’s useless. You wouldn’t settle for a race car that could almost race – so why buy a cider that’s almost perfect, reinforcing the link between quality and perfection of Thatchers.
The 30 second Race Car commercial will be first seen on ITV during the Six Nations Rugby England Vs Ireland match on 2nd February at half time. It will then be shown from February through to September on ITV, Channel 4 and Multichannel, during this year’s top sporting events and TV moments. Hero spots will include Six Nations Rugby, The Grand National, Monaco Grand Prix, Cricket World Cup, Game of Thrones, Great British Bake Off, and the Women’s Football World Cup.
The ad will be included in a VOD (video on demand) campaign running April to July, and also runs in cinema during July and August, including the silver spot in the hotly anticipated new Quentin Tarantino Film – Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, starring amongst others Brad Pitt, Leonardo di Caprio and Margot Robbie.
Yvonne Flannery, Head of Brands at Thatchers Cider comments, “This new phase of our award-winning campaign features our popular Spokesperson, as well as cameos from Martin Thatcher and our chief cidermaker Richard Johnson. Filmed in iconic West Country locations, it retains a gentle, warm-hearted yet funny tone, and leaves the viewer with no doubt as to the taste and quality of Thatchers ciders – what cider’s supposed to taste like.
“Following from our Hot Air Balloon commercial, which we know resonated strongly with viewers on enjoyment and memorability*, Race Car creates a long-term campaign for Thatchers, filmed in the same, sunny photographic style, and featuring familiar faces, music and scenery to support brand recognition.
“Of course, the notion that the race car is going so slow is clearly ridiculous, as was the low flying hot air balloon in the first of the ad series. This is a humorous ad that will appeal to a wide audience and introduce new customers to our brand.”
Joint London are the creative agency behind the campaign for Thatchers, with Bray Leino advising on media buying. The film was directed by Declan Lowney, who has shot numerous commercials for some of the world’s biggest brands. He is also a top television comedy director, with Father Ted, Little Britain and Moone Boy amongst his credits.
The TV campaign is accompanied by a new series of short films for digital channels, also featuring the Thatchers’ Spokesperson, who finds himself in humorous situations at Thatchers Myrtle Farm, always highlighting the Thatchers family of ciders and their great taste characteristics – Thatchers Gold, Haze, Vintage and Katy.
2019 will be another important year for the growth of the Thatchers brand, with planned marketing activity including experiential, sponsorships, events and festivals. The family-run Somerset cidermaker is continually supporting and growing its brands to help drive people into the cider category, and is one of the biggest investors in marketing amongst UK cidermakers.
With its focus on apple cider, Thatchers is driving the apple cider category across both on and off trades with its Gold and Haze ciders. Thatchers Gold is the no 2 canned apple cider (by value)* in the off trade and Thatchers Haze is the No 1 cloudy cider. In the on trade Thatchers Haze is the fastest growing cider in the top ten draught ciders**, and Gold has the best rate of sale of all draught apple ciders.
The commercial was shot in locations including Wells, Shiplate, and Castle Combe.
Gordon Johncox, the chair of the National Association of Cider Makers (NACM) and the chief executive of Aston Manor Cider, addressed MPs, government officials and industry figures to outline a British success story in need of support.
Gordon outlined how collaboration across the industry by cider makers of all scales is a positive feature, though the hard-pressed sector still needs support from government.
As a relatively small industry, representing the best interests of every cider maker informs all aspects of activity of the NACM. The vision of the association is that all producers can operate successfully and fairly in a competitive market, whilst continuing to support their communities, employees and apple growers.
To enable this, he called for a balanced regulatory environment for cider makers reflecting the unique circumstances of producers. In particular, MPs, Ministers and officials were urged to deliver a consistent application of regulations.
Gordon challenged the Government’s willingness to understand the specific situations of cider makers. While headlines from the Autumn budget stated that cider duty was frozen, ciders in the middle duty band received a 25% tax increase, impacting many small cider makers.
Following his speech, Gordon commented: “Cider businesses of all sizes are working hard to deliver a sustainable future for the benefit of consumers and the rural environment. The industry is a significant part of British heritage.
“We need the support of politicians to work with us to return cider to more positive results, remove red tape and the unnecessary rules that limit innovation and investment. This support can enable cider makers produce fantastic products that interest in our category.
“We work to see every cider maker flourish and grow in line with their ambitions, whilst maintaining the highest standards. We firmly believe that with our collaborative nature and how we support one another this can be achieved when we can rely on consistent and sensible legislation.
“In recent months we have seen members providing orcharding experts when others experience weather related problems, large companies have supported smaller producers to expand their packaging ranges. When something is challenging or if advice is needed, small producers will always be supported, and to me, this is why the UK cider industry is so very special.”
The Parliamentary Cider Group Reception was an opportunity to showcase the best of British cider, which is home to the largest cider market in the world. The evening was attended by cider makers from across the South West, Midlands and further afield, as well as many MPs that represent cider making regions within their constituencies.
The NACM is the UK cider industry representative body, working on behalf of large and small producers:
The NACM has been working with the Cider Museum in Hereford to look at some of their wonderful artefacts linked to the history of cider making in the UK. Cider has been enjoyed for hundreds of years and the Cider Museum holds a vast collection of items linked to the past. Our video tells the stories of four parts of their collection, looking at some of the key moments in the history of our favourite drink. With huge thanks to Elizabeth Pimblett, the museum Director, who had the difficult task of selecting just four out of all her favourite parts of the Cider Museum’s collection.
Last week saw the hosting of the biennial International Cider Awards. This event sits alongside its bigger brother, the International Brewing Awards: one of the most respected and longest standing beer competitions in the world. Such a big undertaking is the hosting of these concurrent events, in fact, that they are only held once every 2 years.
The NACM was instrumental in the design of this year’s awards, and its Chair, Helen Thomas was one of the judges. To demonstrate the truly International nature of the competition, Helen was joined by cider making colleagues from Sweden, Belgium, New Zealand and the USA. The standard of entries from all over the world was incredible, with award winners from over a dozen countries demonstrating that cider is a truly global phenomenon.
Cider had its own class in the competition from the early 20th century up until the 1950s. With the boom in global cider popularity, the International Cider Awards were reinstated in 2012. The last time, however, that cider gets a decent mention in dispatches at the Brewer’s Exhibition is in 1932 when Stanley Sheppy, of Sheppy’s Cider of Bradford-on-Tone in Somerset, receives a Gold Medal for their Still Table Cider, also taking out the Champion Cider crown. Rather wonderfully Sheppy’s (an NACM member) is still a family concern, with Stanely’s grandson, David, at the helm. And to fully close the loop, not only is Gold Medal Cider still being made today, but David received a Silver Medal in the Speciality Class at last week’s competition for Sheppy’s Iwood Cider.
The UK also saw Gold medal success for Aston Manor’s Knight’s Malvern Oak, which took home the Gold in the Dry Bittersweet Cider category. Special mention should also be given to Hogan’s Cider from Alcester in Warwickshire, members of the Three Counties Cider and Perry Association, one of the UK’s regional cider associations and affiliated to the NACM. They won the Gold Medal for in the Speciality Class for their ‘sour’ cider, Killer Sharp, which has been fermented with Brettanomyces yeast. This is a fantastic achievement for such a small company, and demonstrates the awareness of cider makers of the highly popular craft beer market.
The last week has seen a raft of stories about British ciders abroad. The Mail on Sunday ran with an article at the weekend that highlighted the current popularity of cider in Russia. Apparently volumes have increased seven fold over the last few years, with British cider accounting for the majority of this. This follows on from an interview with Henry Chevallier, from Aspall Cider, on BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today, highlighting the importance, and challenges, of exporting. Whilst Westons announced it is launching its Caple Road brand into Canada. These stories serve to highlight the increasing importance, and potentially significant future of, exporting great British ciders.
Many British cider makers, such as Aspalls, Westons and Thatchers have exported for many years, with the UK cider industry now exporting to over 50 counties, from Estonia to Australia and Malta to Thailand. Smaller cider makers have increased their levels of exporting, too. You can now find the finest, artisanal ciders from our smaller producers filling the fridges at the hippest joints in the vast megacities of New York, Moscow and Tokyo, as the discerning consumer seeks out the finest of British drinks.
But it’s not just British ciders that are being enjoyed around the world – more cider is being made globally, too. Markets such as the USA, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa all have burgeoning cider categories, with many brands now available in the UK. The US just held its annual CiderCon – a gathering of cider professionals from the US and around the world, to discuss the latest happenings. At events such as this, UK producers are often held with some reverence, thanks to their quality ciders, old orchards and the thousands of years of British cider making heritage. Strong domestic cider markets around the globe can only mean there is an increased demand for British ciders, with consumers wanting to enjoy a taste of the good stuff straight from cider central.
The world is waking up to cider in a big way, and rest assured, British cider will be at the forefront of the global renaissance!
Are you a Feta fan, a Stilton stalwart, or a Cheddar champion? If so, you might be keen to know that today is National Cheese Lover’s Day. Cider and cheese are the perfect complement to one another, and work well together on so many levels.
Cheddar (surely the Nation’s favourite?) is from one of cider’s heartland regions in Somerset, with large and small cider makers right on the doorstep. I can think of few better food and drink pairings than a large lump of mature Cheddar, a door-step sized slice of crusty white bread, and a glass of dry, bittersweet cider. But, there are other great matchings to be had: why not try a fresh, zingy goat’s cheese with a fruity, medium cider or a fully ripe brie with a crisp, dry cider? The options are endless – the fun bit is experimenting to find out what works best for you.
There are a surprising number of meals where cider and cheese combine as ingredients to create delicious dishes. A British take on Mac n’ Cheese, for example, could involve a glug of bold, dry cider. Similarly, why not try using some cider next time you have a dinner party, go retro and dust off the fondue set. The addition of a crisp, dry cider will provide a bite of acidity to cut through the richness of the cheese.
Cider and perry can sometimes even be integral to the cheese making process itself. The Famous Stinking Bishop cheese, from Charles Martell in Gloucestershire, has been rind-washed in perry, providing that fabulous pungent aroma that so befits the name. Whilst former Blur bassist, Alex James, has crafted the multi-award-winning Goddess cheese, which has been rind-washed in Somerset Cider Brandy. Fabulous!
So why not celebrate National Cheese Lover’s Day in the best possible way: with a glass of great British cider!