If Carlsberg made rubbish adverts…

Beer commercials are a bit like World Cup finals, either dazzling displays of craft and ingenuity, or embarrassing flops performed in front of an audience of millions.

Carlsberg has launched a new TV spot which falls into the latter category.

The Danish brewer announced its decision to dispense with the slogan “If Carslberg made…” and replace it with “That calls for a Carlsberg”.  Curiously, the company’s press release starts with the phrase “While Carlsberg’s famous green logo is known all over the world, its sales don’t always measure up to its brand recognition.

Now I’m no expert in beer sales, but if everyone knows your beer, and they’re not buying it, I’d say there’s something wrong with your beer (or the price of your beer) rather than your marketing. Carlsberg obviously felt otherwise and decided to come up with a new ad campaign and slogan.

There are legitimate reasons for companies to do this sort of overhaul. Slogans can become stale, adverts can become too similar or predicable. Or they may be required to achieve something specific, a message about the firm’s safety credentials for instance.  What’s strange here is that there is a clear requirement from these adverts, to get people drinking the beer. So why not focus on the taste or the price?

The advert itself is predictable, we spend half duration watching the protagonist struggle across the Andes, only for him to reach a pub whereupon we find out he’s been carrying the cable for the TV. He’s rewarded with a bottle of Carlsberg (does this class as amusing? There’s more to come) we move away from the action for a moment for the slogan, and then we get the punchline, the aerial on the roof falls over, and everyone looks at our hero to fix it. No one comes away from this very well. We’ve got an advert based around one of the great human conquests, reduced to a trip to the pub, the hero turns out to be the unpopular one in the pub who has to go to the shop to buy everyone else fags and crisps, the other people in the pub turn out to be the arseholes that pick on the unpopular one to do all the jobs they don’t want to do, and the only reward for all this is a beer that no-one wants to drink.

It’s uninspired, middle of the road rubbish based on the premise that men would rather sit round staring at football on the TV then actually interacting with each other. My wife read this in draft this morning; she emailed me to say she liked the Carling post. Yup. She read the post, watched the commercial and came away thinking it was about a different brand.

This effort, possibly the first of many, looks like it was a plan B advert, an ad agency’s stock idea in case they had to produce a beer/razor/aftershave commercial overnight. Switch the products, tweak the voice over, it still works. Maybe it’s a double blind, and the Danes are hoping for a mass campaign to bring back the “If Carlsberg made…” adverts. Well either way, it’s not going to help. These adverts have nothing to do with beer, or male culture, they are bland, dull and generic, like the beer they represent..

Carlsberg needs to seriously rethink its strategy. If people are aware of the brand, but are not buying the beer, the company needs to find out why and tackle those issues in its marketing campaign. This vapid nonsense is like using a mad hatter’s tea party to sell tea. Utterly missing the point.



    1. Well this is it; how does a generic, brand awareness advert challenge that perception? The Coors Light adverts with Jean-Claude van Damme and his cold nipples highlight the refreshing nature of that beer, this does nothing. The press release even makes the beer sound a bit suspect:

      “With over 100 scientists employed in its research laboratories, Carlsberg continues to seek improvements to the quality of its products, both in terms of production and taste. One of its recent achievements is the development of a new type of barley – Null-LOX barley – which has the benefits of being high yielding, provides a better foam for the beer and keeps the beer fresher for longer. These benefits are further enhanced when combined with Carlsberg’s new fast-acting strain of yeast (234).”

      Null-LOX? Mmmmm, yummy.

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