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Diageo: Work on J&B Scotch ‘not good enough’

Work carried out on blended Scotch brand J&B was “not good enough” in recent years, Diageo’s president of Europe, Russia and Turkey has admitted.

John Kennedy believes Diageo’s past work on J&B was “not good enough”

Speaking to investors earlier this month, John Kennedy said that J&B remains an “important brand” for Diageo, particularly in Spain and France, despite witnessing an organic net sales decline of 9% in the group’s 2016 fiscal year.

Kennedy claimed that since J&B’s key Spanish market has experienced a “shift” from “very late night consumption” to “lower-tempo, earlier evening occasions”, the Scotch category as a whole has suffered, while gin has “benefited significantly”.

However, Kennedy was critical of the amount of effort put behind the brand in recent years.

“[T]here was a period where the work was not good enough on J&B,” he said. “We cycled through several marketing campaigns, but I think we’ve cracked that now.

“We’re about 18 months in to a consistent set of communication platforms that you’ll see in the advertising in-store, in major cultural events like the Benicassim Festival, which we’re a major sponsor of.”

Kennedy also said that Diageo has focussed on Spain’s on-trade to boost sales in its whisky portfolio.

“Disappointed with the net sales result from last year, but feeling much better about Spain this year,” he added.

“[T]he French team have always been on top of J&B. Actually it’s been relatively stable there and they have gained share this year. So I expect that to continue. The signs are that we should get reasonable results on this important brand.”

In 2014, Diageo released a honey-flavoured ‘spirit drink’ under the J&B label – J&B Urban Honey.

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