Beer brewers plot £10m ‘body language’ makeover to extend appeal

The nation’s biggest brewers are pouring £10m into revamping the “body language” for beer so that consumers become aware there is a perfect style of brew whatever the occasion.

The industry’s second collective stab at lifting beer sales ditches its first “Let there be Beer” effort. While the attempt tried to highlight the breadth of the category, it was banned for implying alcohol consumption improves popularity and failed to promote a new way to think about beer, according to its creators.

To solve the issue, the industry has crafted the “Britain’s Beer Alliance” identity to give authority to the revamped “There’s a beer for that” push into new occasions. It aims to tout the category’s quality, diversity and flexibility, areas where brewers feel they have lost drinkers to wines and spirits in recent years.

The industry has also recognised the growing importance of at-home drinking, appointing its first shopper marketing agency, GreyShopper London, to make the campaign work effectively across the off-trade channel.

Marketing a new ‘body language’ for beer

A TV ad (see above), directed by 24 Hour Party People director Michael Winterbottom, launches next month to kick off the category’s marketing makeover. From London to North Wales, the creative spans a huge array of locations and cultures across the country to show that for every type of person and occasion there is a matching beer style. Beer and food pairings will appear prominently throughout the ad as a voiceover notes “There’s a beer for that”.

Specific brands will not appear in the ad but the bottles and cans shown are shot in such a way that viewers will notice similarities to household names.

Former Guinness marketer David Cunningham, who joined as the cross-industry initiative’s programme director in February, has devised the 12-month marketing strategy. In order to avoid past mistakes, Cunningham says the campaign has to avoid promoting the “refreshing taste and convivial messages” seen in countless beer ads.

“[Perceptions of] beer are quite homogenous and at a mainstream level people don’t understand that there are over 5,000 beers and each of those is perfect for any occasion – formal or informal. We’re trying to promote different messages to what people usually see about beer and adopt a new body language,” Cunningham told Marketing Week.

“Calling both last year’s campaign and the people behind it ‘Let there be beer’ was confusing for consumers. We’ve tried to separate both elements out and create a clear consumer facing line as well as a very clear identity of who the authors are. I wouldn’t say the previous effort reinforced the negatives of the category but by talking to people about messages already out there it was a little limiting.

“As a brand you have to be quite targeted with your messaging but as an industry we need to have something that appeals to women and men, young and old as well as the novice and expert beer drinkers.”

Educating casual beer drinkers online and in-stores

It is hoped a deeper digital footprint for the cross-industry effort will also help realise the objectives.

A real-time Mindshare-developed “BeerMatch” Twitter service is to launch in the coming weeks that will recommend beers, expertly picked by beer sommeliers, for particular dishes everytime someone tweets @theresabeerforthat.

If spaghetti Bolognese is tweeted, for example, the person will be recommended a Belgian-style blonde ale. An algorithm has been coded to match over 1,000 beers with the top 1,000 foods consumed in the UK, while those requests not on the list will be answered directly by the social media team. It is a reimaging of the brand’s food pairing website last year. Sapient Nitro and Grey Shopper will work together to leverage this activation in order to drive preference in store.

Additionally, weekly discussions on beer styles such as porters, pilsners and stouts will be held on Facebook and Twitter. Over time the beer club will act as a way to educate casual drinkers about the category in a “fun” and “relaxed” way, said Cunningham.

Potential activations in supermarkets are also being discussed that could see “There’s a beer for that” branded promotions run for certain beer brands and specific foods. In the on-trade, the British Beer and Pub Association is working with its members to make more of a concerted drive for food and beer pairings in pubs and restaurants.

Several KPI’s measuring different types of awareness will be used to judge the campaign’s effectiveness over the next 12 months alongside a wider spread of beers stocked in stores. Ultimately, success will be determined by whether beer sales improve, said Cunningham.

Beer value sales in the UK are expected to rise slightly from £9.6bn to £9.7bn by 2018, according to Euromonitor.