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Red Stripe - the world's coolest beer

Published:Monday | January 14, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Cedric Blair, new head of Red Stripe.
Red Stripe's uber fab promoter girls.
The Red Stripe Jamaica brewery at Spanish Town Road, St Andrew. -File photos

 Today, we continue to profile companies that have been nominated for the prestigious 2012 Gleaner Honour Award. Red Stripe has been nominated in the category of entertainment.

That Red Stripe came on the Jamaican entertainment landscape with a vengeance, saw what was there and has been conquering scene after scene for nearly a century, is an indisputable fact.

A 'bashment' is not a 'bashment'; a party is not a party and a gala cannot be in Jamaica without the very inevitable brewed product out of the famed Red Stripe brewery that has gained worldwide reputation.

In fact, the reputation of the foaming beverage has spilled over into the international arena.

The illustrious and visionary producers of the famed Red Stripe beer have consistently ensured that many significant entertainment events that attract the gamut of entertainment seekers, flow off without a financial hitch.

Managing director of Red Stripe, Cedric Blair eloquently and aptly encapsulates the effect of a bottle of Red Stripe beer and its other products when he declared that for years "the world's coolest beer company" has been synonymous with having a good time, whether at home or abroad.


"Red Stripe (formerly Desnoes & Geddes), ensures that many sporting and entertainment events go off without a financial hitch, by throwing big bucks in sponsorship behind them," asserts Blair.

Throughout the years, Red Stripe has sponsored the local football team to well in excess of $100 million and supported other sports such as the very entertaining and history-making Jamaica national bobsled team.

And, for many years, reggae festivals were sure of sponsorship until the company withdrew in order to forcefully drive home the message of its refusal to back entertainers whose music was not rated as wholesome.

"It is therefore not surprising that the company is listed among the nominees for the annual Gleaner Honour Award for its significant contribution to entertainment," he said.

Blair quite correctly asserts that throughout the company's history - first as Desnoes and Geddes (D&G) and then as Red Stripe - sports and entertainment have been two main pillars used to build the relationship with consumers.

"Our deep involvement with major events such as Reggae Sumfest, Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival and Smirnoff Dream Weekend is key as these events help to sell brand Jamaica by positioning our island as an entertainment destination," he added.

Blair notes that these events in turn provide an economic boost by creating jobs, occupying hotel rooms and increasing the inflow of foreign exchange.

Great value

"Our own productions, such as the Arthur Guinness Day Concert, have consistently delivered a high level of performances and overall consumer experience with our brands at the heart of it," said Blair. "This is of great value to us as we find familiar ground for our brands and our consumers and make an unforgettable event of it."

Again, Blair has hit the target, when he affirms that "throughout Jamaica's 50 years as an independent nation, D&G/Red Stripe has seen where entertainment, music in particular, has helped define and shape us as a nation and as a people."

He pronounced that Red Stripe is happy to have been a part of providing some of the most memorable experiences for Jamaicans. "We look forward to creating even more great memories together in the future ... . Cheers to the next 50!" declared Blair.

Ever since the Jamaican brewer and beverage producer was established in 1918 by Eugene Peter Desnoes and Thomas Hargreaves Geddes, who combined their two shops into one business, D&G has been producing one of Jamaica's best-known exports, Red Stripe beer.

The company also exports Old Jamaica Ginger Beer and brews other malt beverages for the local market under the brand names Red Stripe Light, Dragon Stout, Malta (non-alcoholic), Smirnoff Ice, Guinness, and Heineken.

Dragon Stout was introduced in 1920, while D&G also made soft drinks, including the popular Ting, but sold that division to PepsiCo in 1999.

Although synonymous with, and seemingly indigenous to Jamaica, Guinness in 1993, acquired Desnoes & Geddes Ltd and became the parent company four years later.

Radical changes

Following a merger with Grand Metropolitan, international drinks giant, Diageo, the company name was changed to reflect its flagship product - Red Stripe and other changes included cutting staff took place.

Red Stripe's feelers transcended local borders in 2007, when the company initiated a campaign in the United Kingdom to support new music by sponsoring events such as The Camden Crawl and Great Escape Festival.

Red Stripe also hosted in that country, several free music events with bands such as The View and The Rifles. Blair says recent work with new bands puts this initiative in direct competition with the likes of Carling as a featured sponsor of the underground music scene.

In support of this promotional strategy, the Red Stripe Music Awards were initiated between 2007 and 2010, with the winner receiving featured billing at two music festivals, Blissfields and The Great Escape, plus the opportunity to tour with a high-profile act.

Winners of the award included The Runners, Ben Howard, Klaus Says Buy The Record, and The Laurel Collective, while judges ranged from writers of The Fly magazine, including Niall Doherty and Alex Lee Thomson, and brand representatives from Red Stripe.

Writer and music festival PR professional, Alex Lee Thomson also presented a series of web-based interviews for the brand during their sponsorship periods of Camden Crawl and The Great Escape festivals in the UK, while editing their music-based website.

Red Stripe sponsors sports talk television programme Pardon the Interruption during the summer months, alternating with Guinness and recently began sponsoring the International Festival of Thumb Wrestling held annually in Mason City, Iowa.

Cedric Blair, new head of Red Stripe.