In 2015, Carlsberg challenged Fold7 to reimagine the iconic “Probably the best” idea for a new generation. This would mean finding a way to connect with an audience whose appetite for content and entertainment seems insatiable, but who often go out of their way to avoid branded messages. Fold7 has been creating ad campaigns for Carlsberg since 2011, but to keep this audience’s attention and create momentum, we needed to take a less traditional approach. The question was how to do this without falling into the trap of pumping more “digital drivel” into the world.
The article was first published in Campaign magazine.
Christine Beardsell, Fold7’s Managing Partner of Content
While impact remains important in advertising, brands now need to create ongoing momentum to stay front of mind. To do it well, they need a single-minded story that transcends channels. The first step for many brands is to find this unique position. In Carlsberg’s case, we had a very ownable campaign line “If Carlsberg did…”, which is so innately social and humorous that we decided a newsroom would be the best marketing approach.
However, a traditional, editorial-heavy newsroom wasn’t the right fit. Our strategy was to combine large scale “hero” advertising moments to drive mass brand awareness and reach, with planned calendar opportunities across print, out-of-home, video content, social and digital placements to drive frequency and engagement. Simultaneously, we operated a reactive newsroom approach, applying an “If Carlsberg did…” spin to news stories and current affairs to fit naturally into consumers’ social conversations. By using a consistent approach across multiple media channels we could convey the “If Carlsberg did…” attitude across as many touchpoints as possible.
The Carlsberg Newsroom doesn’t look like most other newsrooms. There are no rows of writers hunched over their laptops. Instead, the focus is on creating a flexible, energetic environment where ideas can be conceived, approved and brought to life in 24 hours to make the most of cultural moments. This requires the team to live and breathe the brand’s story, as well as being constantly engaged with culture as a whole. The focus is on creating a marriage of advertising and content expertise, all sitting in one room, to create experiences that fit naturally into consumers’ conversations, rather than trying to forcing their way in. In this way, it’s able to create lasting momentum and bring “If Carlsberg did…” into a new era.
Ryan Newey, Fold7’s Founder/CCO
In such a competitive market, the first expression of the Newsroom had to be an idea that would generate momentum, acting as the fuel driving ongoing user participation and PR coverage. “Probably the best poster” quite literally brought the idea to life. The beer-dispensing poster was placed in the Truman Brewery and treated like a pop-up, live for only six hours. As well as entertaining the core audience (and giving them a chance to get their hands on a cold pint of Carlsberg), the placement in the heart of Shoreditch and limited exposure were designed to create FOMO among those who couldn’t be there. Those who were there felt like they simply “had” to share it – as the mantra of the Instagram era goes: “Pics or it didn’t happen.”
The success of the “Poster” gave Newsroom social currency, and a dedicated fan base waiting to see what would come next. They were rewarded with reactive advertising like “Beer Body Ready”, stunts that included a bar (pub) made entirely out of chocolate for Easter, and an April fools joke promising beer-delivery drones. “Probably the best…” even reached the most dreary of places, the airport carousel at London City Airport, surprising travellers by replacing their cases with a different, more refreshing, type of case. As a result of Newsroom, Carlsberg now has the highest Twitter following of any beer brand, and a strategy that continues to build momentum through user-generated content. In the process, we have won 12 industry awards, including a Cannes Lion.
What the client said
How has Newsroom changed Carlsberg’s approach to its target audience?
This approach has enabled Carlsberg to build a more meaningful connection with consumers. We know a lot more now about the type of experience or content that is going to drive talkability; the value of a consumer conversation that isn’t dominantly pushing a brand message – but has a point of view on trending stories or events. For example, the “Beer body ready” parody of Protein World went viral, reaching 29 million users across social and media channels.
What has the business learned?
How consumers use social media to discover the world on a daily basis – from their own lives and social groups to the broader cultural conversations. If the execution is good enough, then consumers will share it. But this is getting harder as there’s such so much content out there. Our “Probably the best…” and “If Carlsberg did…” lend themselves so well to this kind of experiential and content-creation. Our #IfCarlsbergDid and #ProbablytheBest content has achieved a Twitter rate nearly three times the UK alcohol-industry average.
What impact has newsroom had on Carlsberg’s brand awareness?
As long as the idea is strong, talkability can be huge. Our “Poster” experience was a one-day activity that reached 60 million consumers globally within 24 hours. The hashtag #Probablythebest generated more than 3 million Twitter impressions in one day. At Newsroom’s peak, total brand awareness doubled, spontaneous awareness +2%, advertising awareness +3% and media share of voice was +5% vs target.
Lynsey Woods, Carlsberg