Kronenbourg 1664's UK vintage doesn't extend anyway near as far back as 1664 - in fact, it launched here in 1952, timed to coincide with the Queen's accession, the company claims.
Much has changed since 1952, but the monarch is the same and Kronenbourg is still a feature of pubs and bars, under its elegant draught taps.
The brand hit the headlines recently when the ASA investigated complaints that one of its ads, featuring chefs slicing bubbles to promote its Dynamo Systéme pouring system, condoned knife violence. Kronenbourg was subsequently exonerated.
Behind the sensationalist headlines, though, there are deeper causes for concern. Sales for the year to April 2008 dropped 20%, according to TNS' Biggest Brands survey, before the current downturn had begun to bite.
Kronenbourg, the eighth bestselling lager in the UK, is clearly suffering from an identity crisis. A premium lager it might be, but it is making no headway against market leader Stella, leaving 1664's offering somewhat at sea. Even Carling, seen by many as a 'blokes' drink', has announced plans to communicate a 'quality' aspect.
Moreover, as beer kits and wooden barrels return, Kronenbourg needs a cunning strategy to survive.
Can Kronenbourg save itself? We asked Lorraine Griffiths, managing director of RTD manufacturer Alcohol Brands, and Barry Seal, managing director at strategic design agency Anthem, whose clients include US brewer Coors, for their thoughts.
Lorraine Griffiths managing director, Alcohol Brands
There was a time when Kronenbourg was considered the king of premium beers in the UK - the wiser uncle of Stella. Both have problems, but for quite different reasons.
Where Stella tends to provoke a partisan response in the drinks industry, Kronenbourg is often met with a blank.
The brand's problem is that it has been left behind. A legion of authentic German bottled beers full of strong taste has brushed aside the old man from Strasbourg. This and a new wave of RTDs and premium ciders mean Kronenbourg is largely overlooked.
Its Dynamo Systéme pouring mechanic for the canned product is a weak proposition backed by gimmicky advertising.
And its fruit-flavoured bottled beer is no better. You don't mess around with a blokes' beer by adding fruit, and women won't consider it.
One thing in Kronenbourg's favour is that the on-trade currently has an open goal when it comes to the creation of a vibrant good-quality draught lager. S&N should grasp this opportunity. Changing consumers' drinks portfolios has always been dictated by what happens in the on-trade, and this is where all effort should be concentrated.
- Redesign the font and packaging to create a more vibrant look and feel.
- Move the branding away from heritage; focus on fun and lifestyle.
- Create a semi-premium draught lager.
- Implement advertising based on exciting lifestyle choices.
- Undertake strategic marketing in the on-trade to ensure the right locations carry stock and that licensees and staff know the best serves; carry out mass sampling in pubs and bars.
Barry Seal managing director, Anthem
Kronenbourg is a brand with great potential. After all, it tastes good, and has a heritage in the UK since 1952 that rivals would love to have. However, the brand is in a state of constant change and therefore confusion. I couldn't honestly tell you what the Kronenbourg brand personality is: whether it's artistic, classical or laddish, or any of these.
It has gone overboard in diversifying its brand, with sub-brands such as Blanc, Dynamo Systéme and Premier Cru, at a time when it needs to get back to basics. These sub-brands don't conform to what I would expect from Kronenbourg. The Blanc bottle, for instance, looks cheap, gimmicky and feminine. Surely, Kronenbourg is a masculine brand.
A problem Kronenbourg faces, along with other premium brands, is that its sophisticated values have not played out well in the retail environment, where discounting is the order of the day.
In an age when there's an increasing number of homogenous premium lager brands fighting for the attention of consumers in-store, Kronenbourg, with its current lack of positioning, is in danger of just becoming wallpaper.
- Boost above-the-line spend with a positioning that's consistent and relevant to the brand's core heritage. Focus on targeted TV and cinema slots - these could work well if the brand is positioned toward the arts.
- Roll out a simple, uniform and memorable strapline. Everybody remembers Stella's 'Reassuringly expensive' line.
- Knock off the gimmicks and the femininity encroaching into
- the packaging.
- Make a swift reduction in retail discount pricing.
This article was first published on Marketing