I was browsing through beer videos as usual this evening, until I came across a member of a particularly rare breed; a TV advert for cask ale. You scarcely see a cask ale advert on telly these days, as the quantities of cash required are far beyond the reaches of 98% of the ale-producing breweries in Britain. Greene King, the commissioning brewery for this advert, is one of those in the remaining 2%.
The scene opens to see a mechanical drayman’s lift lowering a cask into the cellar of a patiently observing landlord. After a short bit of cellarmanship, the guv’nor makes his way back up to the saloon bar of his pub; full to the brim with dancing, chatty revellers young and old, grinning as a statistically improbable number of them stand supping pints of Greene King IPA. Achingly hip, stripped-down indie folk music plays throughout.
Those who know me on a personal level will recall that my contempt for manipulative, sentimental advertising is matched only by my contempt for Greene King; a brewery with a track record for buying up and closing small breweries, neutralising previously characterful local inns that have fallen under their control simply for the purposes of enhancing their property portfolio and brand value, but most heinously, mass marketing a 3.6% malt-dominated session bitter as INDIA FLAMING PALE ALE. It beggars belief.
But today the harsh tonic of blame was tempered with dewy-eyed poignancy. It was a lovely advert.
The characters, setting and sentiment were totally artificial, I know that. Yes, the insidious tactic of making a mere product fully symbolic of friendship, pleasure and love was employed ruthlessly; you’re preaching to the converted.
But even if the themes were the result of nothing more than intensive market research, Greene King used their huge marketing clout to loudly espouse what cask ale is all about: The Pub.
From the care and attention of the cellarman, to the convivial atmosphere that is uniquely the sum of good company, music and cask ale, this was undeniably a pub; an institution that needs to be preserved and cherished, and as the only venue where you and I can continue to enjoy cask beer, GK were dead set on giving it a voice.