Spitfire Ale

by SevenC3 Client: Shepherd Neame

Shepherd Neame is the UK’s oldest brewer and Spitfire Ale is one of its flagship beer brands, created to commemorate the airplane that is credited with winning The Battle of Britain during WWII. The brand has a loyal customer base, predominantly consisting of British males, aged 35-50, who are passionate ale drinkers – a notoriously hard-to-engage demographic in the UK.

Seven‘s social team was approached by Shepherd Neame’s digital marketing team to help it develop the brand’s positioning beyond press, TV and point of sale, within the social space.

Seven submitted a core social-content strategy, centered on building and defining a distinctive brand voice that would help distinguish it in a crowded, homogenous market. ‘The Bottle of Britain’ is the underlying editorial and brand purpose developed out of this strategy, as well as the proposition that binds the examples described below. Seven’s proposal for capturing this audience was based on establishing the Spitfire Ale brand voice and content as:

Quintessentially British in humor (parodic, witty, self-deprecating, sarcastic)

The brand is mindful of utilizing the peculiar, but distinct British sense of humor when creating content. Often this is executed through parody or pastiche. In the summer of 2014, it created a stream of ‘Spitfire Ale Pub Jukebox’ content, asking a series of open-ended questions such as: ‘What’s your favorite driving anthem?’ with an accompanying spoof album cover to go alongside the question. Each post was positively received on the platform, in likes, shares and reach.

Patriotic and respectful of British war history and heroes

Along with the humorous content, the brand is conscious that it pays homage to what it means to be British while respecting British history and its legacy. Tapping into what the Spitfire plane emblem stands for – stoicism in the face of conflict, the ‘stiff upper lip’, success against the odds and the huge bravery of WWII veterans – enables a more meaningful tone of voice. The teams create content around key British events, such as the Armistice centenary in 2014 (marking the outbreak of the WWI), D-day and Sir Winston Churchill’s birthday.

Responsive, real-time and reactive

Responding to real-time information has helped the brand engage with a tough audience by being relevant during events that are relevant to them – and in a tone that resonates.

Spitfire Ale’s brand ambassadors are British TV’s Armstrong and Miller’s established RAF pilot characters, who feature in TV and press-marketing materials.

The two pilot characters exist in a world set in wartime Britain of the 1940s, but use the language of modern-day UK teenagers. The goal was to deliver a creative strategy that would extend the presence of the characters in social media. We had their imagery, language and commentary running across various national (and international) events, including the announcement of the second Royal baby, Valentine’s Day and Wimbledon 2014.

The use of Facebook as an entertainment platform, pulling in the audience to engage and value the brand, has had a sizeable impact. By the end of 2014, the number of Facebook fans for the Spitfire Ale page had doubled (from 32,000 to 63,000), with a reach of over five million.

The use of Facebook as an entertainment platform, pulling in the audience to engage and value the brand, has had a sizeable impact. By the end of 2014, the number of Facebook fans for the Spitfire Ale page had doubled (from 32,000 to 63,000), with a reach of over five million.