Brand of the Year

Stella Artois, 1981

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Stella Artois
Hi-Di-Hi Campers! When we weren’t watching the yellow coats at Maplin Holiday Camp, we were drinking lots of beer. Beer brands were dominating TV advertising and winning awards for creativity.

It was the year Stella Artois created its memorable strap line, “reassuringly expensive,” with advertising that played “We’re in the money” as background music. It was also the year Sir Frank Lowe wrote Terry Lovelock’s line for Heineken on the back of an airline sick bag, “Refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach.” Sales subsequently rocketed from 100,000 to three million barrels.

Foster’s, the Australian lager was winning awards for its humorous ads reinforcing Australian stereotypes. In the same year it forged a distribution deal with UK brewers so Foster’s could be sold on draught. Meanwhile, Gorden Rollings was playing a dour Yorkshireman, Arkwright, with Tonto, his Jack Russell for smooth, dark and satisfying John Smiths bitter.

Innovations included the Breville Sandwich Toaster, BT phone cards, Next fashion chain as a family of Leeds tailors bought dozens of Kendalls stores to sell womenswear and the Delorean. The gull wing-doored Delorean sports car began production in Northern Ireland in 1981. Just one year, 9000 cars and a drug trafficking arrest for the founder later, and the car was no more.

The IBM PC made an appearance shaking up a market dominated by the Commodore, Atari and Apple II. It was well received, especially its keyboard, although the loud “clack” of the keys, designed to reassure typewriter-users was later phased out.

Snapshot 1981
Brand Value – $1,847m
Brand Value – Methodology
Events: Brixton riots; Prince Charles and Lady Diana marry; mysterious disease kills homosexuals
Films: Chariots of Fire
Music: Adam Ant sings “Prince Charming”; Lennon sings (posthumously) “Imagine”