Brainfood: The Slogan Doctor - Stella Artois: Reassuringly expensive

These two words turned an obscure Belgian lager into one of the UK's biggest booze brands - with annual sales of about £33.7 million - and spawned a barrel full of 'premium' imitators. All by making a virtue out of necessity. At 5% alcohol by volume, Stella was stronger than most other brews on the market in the early '80s, when the phrase was coined by Lowe & Partners, and so it attracted a higher rate of duty. The genius of this slogan was to take what looks like the kiss of death - an enforced high price - and turn it into a competitive advantage. Cleverly avoiding claims of excellence for the product, the message is simply that being expensive is better than being cheap. The word 'reassuringly' flatters Stella drinkers, making them part of a world where money is no object and cost is equated with exclusivity, not value for money - perfect for the greed-is-good zeitgeist of the Thatcher years. And it still thrives today, despite the 21st century's more ambiguous attitudes to both alcohol and conspicuous consumption.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

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