Monday, 28 September 2015

A pint too far?

I e-mailed the CAMRA Marketing Team about the concerns I had about the Campaign's promotion of Punch's free pint offer for Cask Ale Week (see previous post of 26 September), seeing that they had just agreed to sell 158 pubs, including the Roscoe Head in Liverpool, to a property developer. I'm not really convinced by their reply, but I'll let you judge for yourself. Here it is in full:

Thank you for your feedback, all comments received from our members are appreciated and considered.

Punch have played an active part in Cask Ale Week, a UK wide event championing real ale. This promotion is supporting the Punch pub leaseholders by driving CAMRA members into their pubs during Cask Ale Week, these are the very pubs CAMRA has been campaigning to help over the last few years in regards to the tied pub issue. Whilst some of CAMRA's aims and activities conflict with that of Punch's, we encourage a healthy dialogue between us when goals align. Keeping the lines of communication open also allows us to raise and discuss issues when they do not.

CAMRA is also committed to four Key Campaigns..... one is to encourage more people into pubs and another to drink a range of real ales. This scheme can help with both of these Key Campaigns.

I hope this explains the thinking behind our relationship with Punch and the associated Cask Ale Week promotion.

CAMRA Marketing team

Keeping lines of communication open is one thing; acting as their unofficial promoter is quite another. I have questioned the value of CAMRA's May Is Mild Month campaign. Perhaps similar arguments apply to Cask Ale Week if promoting it means we have to compromise basic principles of saving real ale and real pubs just so members with a smart phone can get a free pint in a Punch pub.


  1. Is it worth raising this through the official structures with a motion from your branch to the national executive or AGM?

  2. CAMRA aren't promoting Punch, they're promoting cask ale week (for what that's worth). They're promoting cask ale.

    I had a leasehold interest in a Punch pub (which I have since sold) and they suggested this free pint thing to me. I never did it personally.

  3. Matt: I did think about that but, as someone who has written quite a few motions to union conferences in the past, I soon realised that it would either be a very complicated motion, or be bland to the point of meaninglessness. The problem is that most pub companies at some time do things we disagree with, so then it becomes a matter of degree, which makes it difficult to define a cut-off point beyond which we take action. I'm certain that an absolute 'no compromise' motion that, for example, meant we could no longer accept JDW vouchers because they had sold off a handful of pubs (as they did a few months ago) would have no chance of passing.

    I see your point, Stonch, but I don't think it was wrong of me to draw my concerns to the attention of the appropriate CAMRA department. It could be argued that the Campaign is promoting Cask Ale Week in Punch pubs.

  4. Having said all that, I don't think an e-mail to the National Chair of CAMRA would do any harm.

  5. Would you like to see Punch collapse Nev? That would have dire consequences.

    They most certainly aren't the bad people they once were and we are where we are.

  6. Strange comment, TM! I was writing about CAMRA promoting Punch's free pint offer. Would Punch collapse if the Campaign didn't promote it? No, obviously not.

  7. I would suggest that Punch (or any other pubco) are more likely to sell off unsuccessful pubs than successful ones. Thus, anything that encourages people into those pubs benefits the licensee first and foremost, and would help keep the pub successful.

    Another thought: You never change someones' point of view by kicking them repeatedly.

  8. Q: How does not promoting a pubco's free pint offer constitute kicking them once, let alone repeatedly?
    A: It doesn't. CAMRA is under no obligation to push a private business's offers.


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