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Heineken Ireland axes Island’s Edge stout

Stout backed with multimillion euro marketing campaign failed to lure drinkers

Brewer Heineken Ireland has axed its Island’s Edge stout after a multimillion euro marketing campaign failed to lure drinkers to the product.

The multinational giant’s Irish subsidiary launched Island’s Edge stout two years ago in the hope of attracting 18- to 35-year-old consumers and cutting into a market where Guinness has long held the number one spot.

However, Heineken Ireland is understood to have ceased selling the product to publicans, who say there was little demand from their customers for the stout.

The company would not comment but reports in recent months indicated that Island’s Edge had yet to find any favour with drinkers despite the marketing push.


Heineken Ireland launched Island’s Edge in mid-2021 with a multimillion euro investment and the ambitious target of capturing 10 per cent of the stout market, which is dominated by Diageo’s Guinness.

But the brand failed to make a dent in the market despite a “heavy” investment in a bid to recruit younger drinkers to stout for the first time.

The brewer declined to put a figure on its Island’s Edge marketing budget at the time of the launch, but indicated to The Irish Times that it would be “in line” with the sums invested in the more successful 2015 launch of cider brand Orchard Thieves, to which it committed €20 million.

Island’s Edge, aimed at 18-35 year-olds who did not traditionally drink stout, was developed after substantial product testing, with tea and basil extract introduced to the brewing process to reduce the bitter aftertaste often associated with stout and increase the sense of refreshment.

The drink was soft-launched in 300 venues in Dublin in July 2021, before being rolled out to supermarkets and off-licences, while a major marketing campaign kicked off in September 2021 with an open-air event in Dublin’s Docklands and a high-profile multimedia advertising campaign created by the agency Havas.

The initial launch campaign used the promotional slogan “unexpectedly refreshing”, while a subsequent campaign by the agency Publicis Dublin in 2022 bore the slogan “it’s better, not bitter”.

Drinks industry figures said on Wednesday that most pubs in the Republic has simply stopped ordering Island’s Edge stocks from Heineken Ireland as there was “little or no demand” for the stout.

Some sources suggested that last year’s 9 per cent increase in Heineken’s draught prices may have left some publicans unwilling to support the new product.

Heineken already owns two stouts, Beamish, which it bought in 2008, and Murphy’s, acquired when the Dutch brewer bought the Cork brewery of the same name in 1983.

Both have launched extensive marketing campaigns in the past aimed carving out a greater share of the market for themselves, but neither came close to loosening Guinness’s stranglehold.

Diageo, the drinks giant that owns Guinness, calculates that the stout accounts for one in every three pints of beer sold across the island of Ireland.

Heineken is the Republic’s best-selling lager, with an 8 per cent share of the market, according to some estimates. Its other brands include Orchard Thieves, Moretti, Coors, Tiger and Murphy’s Red.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics