Heineken has unveiled its first brand activity for John Smith’s in more than 20 years to take advantage of emerging trends in the ale market.

The firm is updating the look of John Smith’s Original and Extra Smooth with a modernised design, featuring new fonts and logos promoting its association with the Tadcaster Brewery. The changes will be introduced on cans and outer packaging on four, eight, 12 and 18 multipacks this month.

Heineken confirmed it is investing £2m to promote the new packs – a 40% increase on total spend for the brand last year – which will be used to launch TV ads and a digital campaign. It marks the first update for John Smith’s since the launch of Extra Smooth in 1993.

Craig Clarkson, category and trade marketing director at Heineken, said the move will be used to address declining sales in “classic” ale in the off trade. He told Retail Newsagent: “We are seeing the same people buying classic ale but are consuming less, while the real growth in the sector is coming from niche and premium brands.

“The new John Smith’s packs have been well received in shopper testing, with intent to purchase growing from 26% to 42%, and the design gives us a more modern feel while also celebrating the brand’s heritage.”

Mr Clarkson said the redesign will be followed by further marketing plans for John Smith’s later in the year.