Amstel applauds Carlsberg’s ‘bold’ approach as it launches campaign starring Jeff Bridges

The aim of the campaign, which features the Hollywood actor as a ‘human bridge’, is to make Amstel the beer brand that’s talked about in 2019 and broaden its consumer base.

Amstel is launching a campaign it hopes will boost “saliency, memorability and general awareness of the brand” in an increasingly competitive beer market.

Nic Casby, brand director at parent company Heineken, tells Marketing Week: “This is just part of a platform to really boost the memorability and general awareness of the brand. We would ideally like to make Amstel the beer brand that’s talked about in 2019.”

The ad features Hollywood actor Jeff Bridges as a ‘human bridge’ who uses his arms to connect both sides of an Amsterdam canal, bringing people together to drink beer.

“We’re trying to communicate a message [about how] there are a lot of things around echo chambers and social media provoking debate,” Casby explains. “But what we want to be about is to say, at the heart of it, let’s all come together and put those differences apart and focus on having a nice time together.”

Despite the emphasis on bridging divides, Casby is clear this is “definitely not a Brexit ad” and says it has been tested rigorously to ensure the message lands correctly with consumers.

“We know we’re a beer brand and it’s not our right to solve the world’s problems,” he says.

However, promoting inclusivity is part of a strategy to target a broader range of consumers, specifically women who are over 25.

“We want to be an inclusive beer and a beer for all,” Casby adds.

READ MORE: Three brands, three strategies: Will any put the fizz back into lager sales?

Amstel hopes the campaign will boost awareness and growth in supermarkets. According to Heineken, the brand has grown 17% in the on-trade year on year and 70% in off-trade.

Despite this Casby says Amstel needs to “up [its] game”.

He explains: “What Amstel’s real benefit has been is it’s essentially an after work night beer, where you might want two or three pints but you don’t want the after effects the next day.

“Being at 4% rather than some of the stronger premiums at 5% [means we can] really build up its distribution in pubs and bars and city locations across the UK and towns. But now it’s not just about pubs and bars, it’s about supermarkets as we broaden our distribution base.”

The ad will air this week on Friday, 3 May during Gogglebox, with the campaign running across TV, cinema, video-on-demand and digital channels until August. However, Casby hopes it is the beginning of a “long-term relationship” with Bridges.

Amstel is not the only Heineken brand using brand ambassadors. Casby also led Foster’s return of Brad and Dan and believes giving beer brands “a face” helps to boost memorability.

READ MORE: Foster’s on why it’s bringing back ‘Good Call’ after a four-year absence

“Every marketer might give you a different view point but certainly when you are looking to develop repeatable memory structures with consumers we do find it helps,” he says.

“On Kronenbourg we’ve had [Eric] Cantona for the last six years and he’s been a fantastic repeatable asset and we hope that Jeff will help create that fame. What is important is you can’t have a brand ambassador without a clear message as well, so the two have to work hand in hand.”

Carlsberg’s ‘bold and brave’ campaign is good for the market

Carlsberg’s decision to relaunch its pilsner with a new brew, campaign and price has caused much discussion within the marketing world but Casby is quick to praise the brand for taking a risk.

“In a world where there is mistrust, just being open and honest and transparent is always the best way to go,” he says. “A brand that is brave and bold is good in the market and I applaud them for that.”

Carlsberg cited Amstel as one of the beers it was looking to target in its premiumisation, with  Liam Newton, vice-president of marketing at Carlsberg UK telling Marketing Week the goal is to move Carlsberg into the “standard plus” market.

Casby concludes: “Right now we’re not sitting here worrying about what [Carlsberg is] doing because we know we’ve got a good plan for ourselves and to date they haven’t really established the pricing or taken any consumers away. But we’ll see how it goes.”

Hide Comments2 Show Comments
  • Chris Bullick 29 Apr 2019 at 9:26 am

    The problem with the Carlsberg move is that is based on a false narrative they have created – that may be ‘brave and bold’ – but not in a good way. They are ‘admitting’ to something that never happened: That Carlsberg used to be the best (it never was) and they have recently let their customers down – again, not true, they went elsewhere to better products. The reality is that Carlsberg betrayed their own brand 40 years ago when they brewed a special low-strength, low-quality version of the brand for Britain’s beer drinkers.

  • simon jackson 1 May 2019 at 1:54 pm

    Casby applauds Carlsberg for being “honest and transparent” yet puts forward a campaign based on conning people that Amstel is Dutch, when in fact it is brewed in the UK. The same campaign mistruths which tell people Fosters is somehow Australian and Kronenbourg is in any way French, when they are all brewed in the same old Manchester and Tadcaster plants that every other faceless British lager-style beer is made.
    Come on Heineken, your relentless pursuit of brand equity is the reason why there is mistrust in the beer industry, your product is based on lying to consumers.

    Carlsberg are no better, claiming Danish brewing when it is boiled up in a sweaty industrial estate in Northampton.

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