John Smith's Grand National Tic Tac

Our first TV ad for John Smith’s Grand National

Aesop, the brand storytelling agency, has chalked up a first for HEINEKEN’S No Nonsense bitter John Smith’s with a one-off TV execution to support the brand’s long-running sponsorship of the Grand National. The ad will be available to view for the first time this week, ahead of the world famous race meeting at Aintree, which takes place from April 12-14.

The HEINEKEN – owned brand has sponsored the Grand National since 2005 and has traditionally supported the tie-up with a heavyweight multimedia campaign embracing billboards and ambient media, but this is the first time that Aesop’s award-winning work on the sponsorship has been extended into broadcast. The 2011 campaign won at The Best Awards, which took place earlier this month, demonstrating how Aesop’s brand storytelling approach can be successfully applied to sponsorship.

The new ad uses the brand’s trademark No Nonsense humour to illustrate the absurdity of real life, according to Aesop creative director Mark Tweddell. “We show how John Smith’s cuts to the chase,” he says. The 40 second commercial features a bloke trying to signal to his mate that it’s time for a drink, but getting involved in increasingly comical tic tac conversation with a bookie, until another pal rescues him using the universal sign language for having a pint.”

It is Aesop’s first shoot since the multidisciplinary agency launched last year.

The commercial, which will be shown on screens at Aintree and other racecourses across the country, posted on YouTube and aired on digital channel Racing UK, dovetails with the outdoor and ambient activity that has seen John Smith’s consistently get more bangs for its sponsorship buck. Aesop’s campaign surrounds race-goers on their journey from Liverpool city centre to Aintree racecourse bars, with humorous, racing -related messages that make the brand an inescapable part of the event. Creative use of ambient media, such as messaging on all winning horse blankets across the three days of the race meeting, means that the brand values will be beamed into around 9 million  homes through the BBC TV coverage.

John Smith’s Senior Brand Manager Karen Crowley said: “This is great addition to the marketing mix that we have employed over the years for the Grand National and for the first time we have created an ad around our racing platform. This allows us to communicate our sponsorship well in advance of the Grand National and extend our reach of the campaign to a broadcast and digital audience.”