Wednesday 24 January 2018

Publicans' €1m plan to tempt punters back

Breda Heffernan

PUBLICANS are to launch a major new €1m advertising campaign in a bid to woo drinkers -- and teetotalers -- back to their local.

With pub sales hitting a new low in the battle against supermarkets and off-licences, the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) is set to unveil a three-year advertising blitz -- without any mention of alcohol.

Val Hanley, in-coming president of the VFI and former Lord Mayor of Galway, said publicans must fight against the growing trend of people drinking in the home. "The campaign will relaunch the Irish pub and will emphasise the craic and how it's the cultural hub of the local area.

"We want people to come back to the rural pub for the craic and the sociability. You don't have to get drunk to enjoy yourself in the pub," he said.

"We'll be working with Tourism Ireland on this... We have never had an advertising campaign like this before. We probably won't be able to gauge how it has worked for a few years," he added.

The campaign will feature radio, television and print advertisements and will target both locals and tourists.

It comes at a time of growing pressure on pub owners as the smoking ban and tougher drink driving enforcement encourage more people to drink at home. At one point 70pc of all alcohol sales were in the pub, but this now stands at just 52pc.

The VFI has lost 1,200 members, around one-fifth, over the past three years.

Growing costs facing publicans will be a hot topic at the VFI annual conference, opening in Tullow, Co Carlow today, particularly water charges.

Mr Hanley cited the example of one Kilkenny pub where water charges have tripled from €6,000 to €18,000 in just a few years.

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