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Cask Marque slammed for GB News marketing tie-up

Cask Ale Week had a rocky start after a marketing move by cask quality assessor Cask Marque contributed to its image being questioned.

Image via @caskaleweek2023 Instagram

This week, Cask Marque came under fire after alerting its followers on social media about upcoming plans to appear on GB News, a decision that provoked a raft of furious responses from beer fans.

The post, which said: “Watch us on GB News tomorrow!” was slammed by the beer industry as “a misjudged move” that aligned with the “right wing” — an image that the sector has made efforts to shed over the years.

The outcry followed Ofcom recently finding GB News in breach of impartiality and saw representatives from across the beer industry taking to social media to respond to Cask Marque’s decision to publicise cask ale via the platform.

One stated: “This kind of image is exactly the opposite of what we need to keep cask alive.”  While another added: “You know when they said in the office that was a bad idea. You should have listened.”

Speaking about the coverage, Cask Marque founder and executive director Paul Nunny told the drinks business that the Cask Marque had not sought out the tie-up, but in fact had been approached by the platform.

Nunny told db: “Regarding GB News, they wanted to promote cask and Cask Ale Week, so we gave them stats on the cask market and access to an assessor.”

When asked what he thought of the reaction towards Cask Marque opting to work with GB News to promote cask ale, Nunny said: “People have their views and seem to air them on social media. It is not for Cask Marque as a company to take sides and add comment. We are here to promote cask beer to everybody.”

On 28 September, Cask Marque plans to host ‘The Future of Cask Seminar’ at Brewers Hall in London where it will present the latest industry analysis, insights from Wetherspoons, Asahi UK and the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) to key industry figures.

Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company (CMBC) recently cited that the “decline of the cask ale market” was a consideration when deciding on the closure of Wychwood Brewery. Speaking to db this month, a CMBC spokesperson said: “In the current economic environment, and with the decline of the cask ale market in the UK, we are having to carefully consider where we invest to achieve a successful, sustainable ale business.”

Despite these claims, cask’s image has been reconsidered rather a lot over the past few years, with data showing that younger drinkers’ interest in cask ale is growing, even though tackling its visibility on the bar and its overall image has been identified as fundamental to its success.

Last year, the hashtag #CaskAleWeek had a social media reach of 15.8 million people, showing the potential of getting word out about cask ale, if it is a positive one. Cask Ale Week will continue to run until 1 October.

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