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Antica sticks the boot into Luxardo after ASA verdict

A bitter war of words has broken out in the sambuca category after the Advertising Standards Agency threw out a complaint by Luxardo against rival brand Antica.

Cellar Trends, which distributes Luxardo, objected to advertising from Hi-Spirits, which claimed its Antica brand is the biggest-selling sambuca in the UK on-trade.

Advertising and marketing for Antica used the strapline: “Antica Sambuca, the best selling on-trade sambuca by far".

The statement was based on independent data compiled by CGA showing that the Antica range is the best-selling on-trade sambuca brand measured both by value and volume.

The industry-standard on-trade CGA data submitted to the ASA fully supported Hi-Spirits’ defence.

The ASA adjudication said: “The figures for the 12 months preceding the date on which the ad was published showed that Antica had a higher volume and value share than any of its competitor brands of sambuca.”

The ASA added: “Because Hi-Spirits had shown that the volume sales of Antica Sambuca from pubs, bars and nightclubs were higher than any other sambuca in the twelve months prior to the publication of the ad, the claim “best selling on-trade sambuca” had been substantiated.”

Despite the ruling coming in its favour, Hi-Spirits could not resist sticking the boot into Cellar Trends.

Jeremy Hill, chairman of Hi-Spirits, said: “Bringing in the ASA really smacks of desperation, demonstrating that Cellar Trends has no commercial or marketing response to Antica’s successful introduction of the Pro-Pour device across the range.

“Our consistent product innovation has been the driver of sambuca sales growth in the on-trade.

“Luxardo’s decision to copy our flavoured sambuca range demonstrates that they’re quite willing to try and reap the benefits of our hard work in growing the sambuca category.

“If lodging unfounded complaints when we draw attention to Antica’s sales success is their only response, then the fact that Antica is now seeing growing off-trade sales as well will have them really worried.

Cellar Trends responded by admitting it might have based its complaint on flawed information, but claimed the Antica advert was misleading over the overall popularity of the Hi-Spirits brand.

Terry Barker, marketing director at Cellar Trends, told the drinks business: "When the complaint was filed, research showed that Luxardo was indisputably overall leader in the sambuca sector, ie on- and off-trades combined and Antica was leader in the on-trade by a small margin.

"The complaint to the ASA was based on Nielsen data which appears to be incomplete. Data from CGA, used by Hi-Spirits, may be more robust.

"The advertisement did not reveal the source of the claim. For the record, Cellar Trends is responsible for growing the sambuca sector over the last ten years. Luxardo was also the first to develop flavoured sambuca with the launch in 2000 of Passione Nera.

"We accept the ASA ruling and we are looking into the data research methods."

Alan Lodge, 16.06.2010

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