Launch a national lager brand, entirely on radio; here’s £35,000.

Cider company HP Bulmer, UK owners of Jamaican lager brand, Red Stripe, had a budget of £35K to do some press ads and a small poster to put in stores across the country, to see if the brand could appeal beyond its ethnic core market.

You couldn’t do much nationally with that kind of money, but I thought 35K could make a decent splash on radio and suggested Bulmer blew the lot in a single burst in one area, BRMB, Birmingham's commercial station.

Client liked the idea but asked to see some scripts first. I wrote 6 and presented to Bulmer in the tea garden at the Queens Hotel in Cheltenham one sunny afternoon; reading them, the client laughed so much that he swallowed a wasp and had to be rushed to hospital.

Thankfully both he and the scripts survived. I produced the first pool of 6 ads with Jimmy Mulville and Rory McGrath, then working with Mel Smith and Gryff Rhys Jones in the early days of TalkBack.

Commercially, the campaign was an instant hit; sales across Birmingham went through the roof, up 300%! Bulmer were delighted, so much so that they agreed to plough the campaign profits back into more advertising, this time in Birmingham and London, with the same results. Two years and twenty commercials later, the brand had expanded to cover the whole country, entirely on radio; it had taken close on 2% of the vast UK lager market and went on to win every award and accolade the advertising industry could throw at it.