Elections are good for business especially if you’re a Westminster
The Bass-managed Marquis of Granby is situated within 500 yards of the
main parties’ headquarters.
As the press descended on SW1, Manager Mike Bowler wondered how to
capitalise on his pub’s ringside location. He came up with the idea of
running an election ale poll, with pints of beer replacing ballot papers
in deciding the country’s fate.
To promote two Westminster pubs - the Marquis of Granby and the White
Horse and Bower - to journalists and tourists and to publicise Bass
Taverns and the Bass brand.
With support from Bass, a special, limited edition election brew was
commissioned from the Bass Museum micro brewery in Burton-on-Trent.
Although sold in both pubs, pints of election ale only counted as votes
when bought in the Marquis of Granby. The leaders of the three main
parties were each allocated a pump selling election ale, complete with a
Customers were asked which pump they wished to be served from and the
results recorded on a beerometer.
The campaign focused on national press and TV although the international
media was also important as a means of telling tourists where to find
A key challenge for the agency was maintaining press interest throughout
the four weeks, in the face of strong competition from ’real’ political
stories. This was addressed by regular news updates on the party
leaders’ progress over the period of the campaign. The story’s strong
visual element provided opportunities for press and TV.
With 1,067 votes however, for Tony Blair compared with 1,037 for Paddy
Ashdown, Labour’s victory was hardly a drinkslide. John Major collected
just 819 votes.
Media coverage of the poll included the Independent, the Guardian,
Reuters, CNN, Fox Cable and Channel 4. There was coverage on Japanese TV
and on TV and radio stations in seven European countries. Profits at the
Marquis of Granby rose by pounds 6,000 in the last two weeks of the
The campaign did not make a big impact on the UK press, most notably the
tabloids for whom the story would have been ideal. One explanation is
that many journalists were out following the campaign trail. However, it
generated strong interest in the international press who warmed to the
story’s quirky nature. Bass Taverns felt it was an encouraging result
for a project which, according to PR manager Janice Clark, was ’just a
bit of fun’.
Client: Bass Taverns
PR Team: Companycare
Campaign: Election ale poll
Timescale: 1 April - 1 May 1997