Cider Musings

Cider and Advertising through the ages

This the talk I gave to the 4th New Zealand Cider Festival 2019

Firstly why advertise, a fundamental question. The world is global and unless you advertise your company club etc will be lost amongst the rest. Hence the NZ Cider Festival advertises. TeePee Ciders advertise. And to advertise you need recognisable logos that “tell the story”


Oak background for barrel fermented. 750 ml ‘champagne bottles for secondary fermentation.

and this house to reflect farm based traditional cider

However advertising was not originally needed. Cider was made on most farms and country houses. It was made because water was of poor quality and manual labouring in the fields was thirsty work. Cider or weaker ciderkin was more healthy as the fermentation killed off the harmful bacteria.

A daily ration of cider was taken into the fields in a costrel and formed part of a labourer’s wages until this was banned by the Truck Laws of 1887

However Percy Bulmer started the process of industrialisation of cider and could export cider from the ‘3 counties’ on the newly developed railways into London and the industrial heartland of England.

Here in the pubs of London and Birmingham, cider previously unknown outside a small area of England, had to compete with beer and spirits.

Hence the need to advertise. Percy was not slow to recognise this and advertised in newspapers and magazines of the day.

The claims could be flamboyant. Accuracy was not needed by the standards of the day.

Now drinks companies are global. Heineken, the company  that owns Bulmers now owns the Old Mouat Kiwi brand. Heineken owns over 250 brands in 60 countries.

Advertising media were endless and merchandising became a big business in its own right. The obvious items are pub paraphernalia.

                                               ‘Beer” mat

Some very creative.

Give away 45 record

And of course reaching children help recruit to the future market.

Radio the new medium of the time and used.

                                        Beverley Sisters

However advertising stepped up a notch with the development of Babycham. Please read another entry on the development of Babycham, However its advertising is fascinating. The public came up with the nickname of Babycham. A contraction of baby or small bottles and cham from champagne. Francis Showering was offered an amazing opportunity which he took. With the help of Jack Wynne Williams of Masius Wynne Williams advertising agency several strap lines and of course the fawn was invented.

The fawn is still being used and has featured heavily in every advertising promotion.

The fawn was so integral to the brand that Showerings took Cath Kidston to court over the use of a similar motif


Babycham was the first alcoholic drink to be advertised to women and the first alcohol advert on the new medium TV.

Showerings engaged Patrick Mower the “George Clooney” of the day in England

Patrick Mower
           Babycham offered happiness, excitement and success.

Such was the effect that Philip Norman ( rock biographer) suggested. Babycham was the first drink a woman could order alone in a pub without appearing a “tart or a crone”

Babycham is now celebrating its 60th with the fawn still prominent.

With the sucess of Babycham it was not long before the other cider brands were competing on TV with brand recognition and symbols resonating through the years. Bulmers Strongbow marketed to men had thudding arrows. ( named  after “one of England’s greatest knights” Richard de Clare, whose nickname “Strongbow” was believed to be derived from his heavy reliance on archers,  initially marketed as “the strong cider for men”.

                                              bar tap

Bulmers advertised Woodpecker a sweet cider similarly to women.

With the cute woodpecker that spawed its own merchandising.

However the 70s were a difficult time for cider and budgets were cut and advertising contracting back to tried old formulas. and in advertising none is as tried as ‘sex sells”. Bulmers tried the Pirelli calendar route Luckily the calendar lasted only one year .

August is at least the right month for cricket but what a mess if she hits the apple.

Current advertising moves with the times and relies heavily on social media.

The “brothers are all from the Bulmers family who lost control of the name.

And in this media there has been the rise of the influencer. Cider has several none perhaps as distinctive as Gabe Cook the self named “ciderologist “

Modern advertising of cider which nowadays due to lax rules and the global nature of companies stresses local natural and other key drivers to make their product appear artisan rather than mass produced with minimal apples year round in factories. In the UK the apple content of cider only has to be 35% and can be from concentrates of any apple type .

                         Symonds Yat, Herefordshire. Note the date, history!

Modern advertising is big business with bit budgets. The Bulmers launch of “Cloudy Strongbow in 2014 cost NZ$ 14million. They spend $2M on giving away samples in city centres and advertised on social media billboards Tv and direct to the consumer on mobiles.

Note the stylised archer

Articles are written on this subject

And given this is a Kiwi talk, Bulmers wants to reach us locally too. Wassail.