Carlsberg UK has launched its most ambitious and honest consumer facing campaign ever in a bid to drive reappraisal of its flagship beer brand.
Expected to reach 97% of the UK, the £20million campaign conceived in collaboration with agency partners Fold7, Clifford French and Initiative - trades on the equity of the brand’s renowned slogan to hero the new, ‘perfectly-balanced’ Carlsberg Danish Pilsner beer. By acknowledging the 'truth' about the quality of Carlsberg in the UK to date, the brewer hopes to challenge a generation of drinkers to re-appraise and re-trial Carlsberg.
The move comes at a time when interest in standard lager is at an all-time low. The beer market has been forced to accept the prevailing winds of decreased consumption, with 1.6m fewer drinkers than five years ago, alongside the emergence of craft beer – with its new flavours and brand tribalism grabbing drinker’s attention. But with 81% of consumers saying a great tasting lager is worth paying more for, Carlsberg UK sees a unique opportunity to make Carlsberg relevant again.
"Drinker's interest in mainstream lager has waned because, though the world has moved on, the mainstream category hasn't," says Carlsberg UK's VP marketing, Liam Newton.
"At Carlsberg UK, we lost our way. We focused on brewing quantity, not quality; we became one of the cheapest, not the best. In order to live up to our promise of being ‘probably the best beer in the world’, we had to start again. We’ve completely rebrewed Carlsberg from head to hop."
Initial research indicates that 59% of UK lager drinkers prefer the taste of the new crisper, Carlsberg Danish Pilsner over the current UK No.1 mainstream lager.3
In addition to the brew changes, Carlsberg have enhanced all aspects of the drinking experience, from glassware to packaging and beyond, to ensure that Carlsberg Danish Pilsner is enjoyed in the best possible way at every pour.
“We’ve returned to a path of pursuing better in every way inspired by the legacy of our founder J.C. Jacobsen,” says Lynsey Woods, Director of Marketing at Carlsberg UK.
“We have upgraded every touchpoint of our brand and launched our innovative ‘Snap Pack’ multipacks to enable us to deliver a reduction in plastic of up to 50% from brewery to store. These were significant undertakings, but the biggest challenge is letting UK drinkers know we have changed and getting them to fall back in love with Carlsberg again.”
Honesty is the best policy
By inverting the brand’s “probably” slogan and getting straight to the truth as consumers see it, Carlsberg UK hopes to instigate conversation and ensure drinkers are left in no doubt that there has been a change for the better.
“Today, the value of brand honesty to consumers is more powerful than ever. But it is still rare to see brands hold their hands up when they don't live up to their promise. Carlsberg has not only been brave enough to do this, but have done something about it,” said Fold7’s managing partner, James Joice.
"By re-brewing Carlsberg Pilsner, and using the campaign efforts to focus on re-appraisal, we hope in time, UK drinkers will recall the quality of Carlsberg's beer as fondly as they recall the advertising.”
Relevance over reach
Carlsberg’s media partner Initiative has enabled the brand to maximise campaign impact by narrowing the ‘right audience, right message, right time’ approach to an unprecedented degree of accuracy. The data-centric approach is key to unlocking success as the brewer delivers its bold “probably not the best” message across the UK.
Initiative’s strategy concentrates media efforts towards a series of high-value audiences defined by attitudes, lifestyle factors and consumption habits that make them more receptive to Carlsberg’s brand and product proposition than other consumers. These audiences are then mapped against on and offline channels to ensure the delivery of relevant messages at the right time and in the right environment.
“The innovation of the campaign planning mirrors the bravery of the message. Nothing less would have sufficed,” said Initiative’s CEO, Richard Morris.
Campaign assets will go live from 15 March across social, out-of-home and digital. TVC activation, live from May, will see brand philosopher Mads Mikkelsen return to screens to deliver the bold message during the busy May bank holiday schedule.
Follow the @CarlsbergUK campaign on Twitter from April 15