Carlsberg has taken a radical approach to promoting its beer, admitting it lost its way: “We became one of the cheapest, not the best.”
A new ad released in the UK this week – part of a £20 million new campaign – plays on the Danish brewer’s former advertising slug line “Probably the best beer in the world.”
The new ad reads: “Probably not the best beer in the world. So we changed it.”
The ad goes on to say: “Somewhere along the line, we lost our way. We focused on brewing quantity, not quality. We became one of the cheapest, not the best.
“So, there was only one thing for it. We had to create a better beer. A new Carlsberg, that’s been completely rebrewed from head to hop. The result? A prefectly balanced Danish Pilsner with a crisper, fuller flavour than before. Finally, a beer that lives up to its promise? Probably.”
As part of the campaign, the brewer has also been promoting tweets from disgruntled customers complain about the quality of Carlsberg’s beer.
One tweet said it was like “drinking the bath water your nan died in”. Another said it was like “stale bread sticks”.
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 promoted tweets are a form of postmodern offence archaeology,” marketing expert Scott Guthrie told City A.M. “They are looking out for offence and then embracing it, rather than calling it out and shaming.”
Tom Harvey, new client director at drinks marketing agency YesMore, told Drinks Business the brewer was “brave”, but felt it would earn Carlsberg “kudos (and purchases)”.
“It takes a bold brand to change the way their products have been made for decades, even if it costs them more time and money in the process,” he said. “This will likely earn respect and advocacy from a great portion of their target consumers.”
Lynsey Woods, Director of Marketing at Carlsberg UK, said: “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.”
Carlsberg noted that interest in lager is at an all-time low, with consumption continuing to decline, so it decided to make a premium play.
Liam Newton, Carlsberg UK vice president marketing, said: “Drinker’s interest in mainstream lager has waned because, though the world has moved on, the mainstream category hasn’t.”