Hog’s Wash: Rebranding outside the pub sphere is something I’m quite sanguine about. If the criticism is that it’s a cosmetic and meaningless change then why get worked up about it? Within the world of booze though rebranding goes hand in hand with refitting, and also implies a fixed set of rules to guide the refitter’s hand. The Laurel Pub Company seems to be particularly keen on branding, committing the basic marketing error on its website of listing its different brand umbrellas (‘Champion’, ‘Town Tavern’, ‘Traditional’ etc.) while offering no definitions of same. One of the brand umbrellas is “Hog’s Head”, and here we come to an example of rebranding which seems asinine even to me.

The “Hog’s Head” pubs used to be called Hogshead pubs, you see, and Laurel Pubs is proud to announce that it is rolling out its ‘new concept’ for them. The new concept being its discovery of the apostrophe, presumably on the grounds that it gives a more ‘traditional’ pub name air to proceedings. Unfortunately hogshead is itself an old, traditional, beer-related word and a perfectly sensible pub name.

What does the rebranding amount to inside the pub? Less ales, according to Pete who knows about these things. In fact, no ales, just a few lagers. I’m no great friend of CAMRA but this does seem a bit much. The other novelty is Pub TV. Not, I stress, TV in a pub.

The concept of Pub TV is simple. People like watching TV in a pub, but if you have the actual TV on in a pub then your punters could see all sorts of horrid and brand-negative things, like people being blown up or G-Unit videos. So the Hog’s Head has a TV which shows its very own channel. What this means in practise is:

– one advert for the Italian Job DVD.
– some old pop videos (nothing after 1988)
– a graphic showing the words “HOG’S HEAD” splitting up and spinning around.

Over the course of a few hours in the pub we had seen the advert and the spinny graphic perhaps 80 times each. The experience was very similar to being stuck at the front of a London bus and having to watch Travel Eyes non-stop but with even less variety. The videos were fine and sparked conversation a little but the obvious thing for the chain to do is buy a Video Jukebox, not waste its money and our time with the illusion of content represented by Pub TV. Although as it stands the Pub TV service is entirely in keeping with the vanity and lack of marketing and financial suss represented by a rebranding which changes only the punctuation.