You may have noticed that a brand new campaign launched this weekend to try to stimulate flagging beer sales in the UK.
Whilst I laud the attempt to try to do something about the situation, I can’t help feeling disappointed [and a little baffled] about how advertising has been used to tackle the issue.
“Let There Be Beer” is the tub-thumping, rallying cry of the campaign.
“Let There Be Beer”?
Judging from the launch commercial that’s just been produced “Let There Be Lager” would have been a much more appropriate slogan.
Is this really the best the brewing industry could do?
They’ve ended up making what seems like a totally generic campaign for lager. I’ve looked hard and can’t see any evidence of ale being featured in any of the depressingly familiar and laboured vignettes of the commercial.
Apparently the five biggest global brewers are behind the campaign. And therein lies the problem.
Hats off to them for clubbing together to fund the campaign. However, while the input of their cash is probably the single most important thing that’s helped this initiative to see the light of day, it’s also given them blinkered buyer’s rights into controlling the messaging to ensure that their own nests are amply feathered.
I totally appreciate that that this campaign needs to generate a commercial gain and a decent return on their investment but it looks like this conglomerate has fallen into the trap of making an ad that’s more in their interests than that of their audience.
And it’s this conflict of interest that could ultimately backfire as it comes across like a cynical corporate marketing ploy rather than a genuine attempt to inform, educate and entertain.
There’s nothing in the ad that gives people a single reason to think differently about beer. In fact, I’d wager that it merely reinforces what people already think and know about the category.
This ad doesn’t say or do anything different to the campaigns that the brewers already have out there for their bland, bog standard fizzy lagers. It’s of the same frothy, fluffy ilk and cut from the same knockabout cloth as cooking lager advertising that it’s possible that punters could even misattribute it to a brand instead of a category push.
I winced and shuddered when I read the quote from someone involved with the campaign talking about how it demonstrated “beer’s unifying presence at social events”.
Fuck me, what’s the new news here that’s going to make people re-evaluate beer and drink it more often?
Beer as a reward for hard graft and thirsty work [the barbecue scenario].
Beer as a social lubricant to help bonding with new people in uncomfortable situations [the “meet the girlfriend’s father scenario”]
Beer to celebrate the end of the working week and time to kick back and relax [the office scenario]
All of these clichéd social situations aren’t exclusive to or owned by the consumption of beer. They can be and are often fuelled by any kind of booze [well, not absinthe maybe].
My biggest gripe in the whole flawed strategy is that they haven’t started with the product and worked their thinking around this.
There’s so many potentially interesting things to say about the vast array of different types and styles of beer that are emerging these days that would open up people’s eyes to the possibilities of what they might be missing.
It’s true that young people “drink to fit in” and choose brands they like. But it’s also true that there comes a time when depth of flavour, taste and experimentation becomes important in their drinking habits and repertoires.
It feels like they’ve decided to treat the category as a brand and ignored all the product qualities of beer in favour of undifferentiated, touchy-feely guff instead. This is a crying shame as there’s a real story to tell about product quality as CAMRA, the small breweries and craft beer makers would all testify.
People are drinking less beer because other drinks are seen as being a more interesting and rewarding alternative, whether that be flavoured ciders, alcoholic ginger beer, wine, spirits, cocktails etc.
This campaign could have been an opportunity to challenge people’s assumptions about beer and make them think differently about the world of beer.
I hotfooted it over to the Let There Be Beer website to see if there was more depth of product communication behind the campaign only to be met with a holding page with a date proclaiming 11.08.13.
Another major fail. Why go on TV with ads and not have a website ready?
It’s left me wondering what momentous thing is going to happen in six weeks time. Apparently they’re in the process of “creating a whole new world of beer for you”.
Now that’s some claim and undertaking. I’d politely suggest that a “whole new world of beer” doesn’t need to be created. People just need to know more about the world of beer that exists right now rather than a parallel universe where cooking lager is king.
What a missed opportunity.