"Let There Be Beer". Oh dear.




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 clich├ęd 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.


9 comments:

  1. Ah man you are so right!
    Thanks for sharing it too.
    I saw your tweet about it and was hoping it'd be followed with a blog post.. didn't expect it to nail it so much though...

    You are totally right and of course their little minds were absorbed by the figures in the pay check.

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  2. Another bland ad done by bland people. Maybe they should've had a couple of pints of the clients' product before they came up with this.

    Compare that to this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kL77IvyLF98

    It makes me sad more than it should.

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  3. I thought it was American

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  4. A great blog post. Brian couldn't have done better.

    It's the insipid beer related observations that must have taken all of 5 mins, that kill me.

    You can imagine it can't you - so when do people drink beer hum? When do they most hanker after a cold one?

    It's like piss poor stand-ups doing material about cats and dog people, or only buying kebabs when you are drunk or why is it so hard to get someone else's shower the right temperature...

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  5. Anheuser Busch said it best back in the day - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vplVEEivCJo
    fine work by the legendary Bob Kerstetter and friends at Goodby.

    Still, loving the big brands getting together, more of that please

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  6. Since when was 6 p.m Beer O'Clock?! Everybody knows it's 5. Ffs.

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  7. Ha, that's great stuff Jason, ta for the link.

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  8. whass soo wong wiht absinthe, some of my bes frends is absinthe! Seriously tho nit being "in the trade" (advertising or beer) its really hard to see what this ad is driving at, and supported by face book and twatter, surely you have to be over the age of those users to be allowed to drink beer?

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  9. I'd seen the ad a couple of times before being curious enough at the lack of a brand to Google it. Honestly I expected it to be some corny attempt by Carling to tap into social media.

    I agree all the ad tells you is what people already know, in the most cliched and laddish of ways possible, and for most people who currently turn their noses up at beer it confirms what they think they know, that beer is bland fizzy and generic; when in fact the message should be that drinking beer can be every bit as varied and nuanced as wine or whisky.

    But since the companies behind this product mainly bland fizzy and generic beer only suitable for refreshment, looking blokish and social lubrication they're not going to do this.

    What they've ended up doing is tainting the whole beer industry with the whiff of the lager-lout.

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