Carlsberg welcomes back pubs as it tries to mirror mood of the nation

As coronavirus halted plans for Carlsberg’s ‘Probably not’ marketing, the brand switched focus to supporting local business.

Carlsberg is welcoming back consumers to pubs in a new campaign that looks to capture the nation’s nostalgia for pints.

The beer brand is marketing the reopening of pubs in England as lockdown eases after three months of closure with “Welcome back to the pub”, created by Fold7.

The ad mirrors an escape movie and follows three friends as they break out from the mundanities of lockdown, until they finally meet in a beer garden and enjoy a Carlsberg.

The campaign includes a two-day roadblock of TV spots across channels such as ITV and Channel 4, as well as outdoor and national press ads. Its social media aims to reach every drinking age Twitter user in the country with the tagline ‘Tastes even better when we’re together? Probably.’

The brand’s UK director of marketing, Emma Sherwood-Smith, says the ad is tapping into “the mood of the country”. To do this successfully, Carlsberg conducts daily polls in order to ensure it is keeping up with consumers – whose mood can change hourly.

She explains: “The tone when we first started was about tales from the pub but over time as that sentiment was changing as people were starting to look forward more and thinking about the things they were going back to.”

Alongside the campaign, the brand is also supporting local pubs with its ‘Love My Local’ digital platform, which encourages pub-goers to support their local pub in a safe and responsible way.

The platform was launched initially to help pubs, bars and restaurants keep trading during lockdown through take-away and donations. This has now been enhanced to enable pubs to offer online food and drinks menus, take online payments and table bookings and capture booking names and contact details.

Sherwood-Smith explains: “The function is to help small independent pubs with things they might find challenging. This app allows you to book tables and pay from your table. This sort of technology is only allowed for the big chains and we’re bringing that to independent pubs.”

Pivoting its marketing plan

Coronavirus upended the brand’s marketing plans earlier this year as it was set to continue its ‘Probably not the best beer in the world’ campaign.

The campaign was an inversion of its ‘Probably the best beer in the world’ tagline. Having admitted it had chased volume rather than quality, it set about totally revamping product This included a “head to hop” rebrew, new packs and glassware, and a more premium positioning as a Danish pilsner.

Over the past 12 months, the on-trade has seen 6% value growth driven by increased rate of sale, reversing a severe on-trade sales decline with a £108m swing back to growth, and improved brand perception.

Sherwood-Smith explains: “We’ve had to do a huge pivot. We had the year mapped out to continue talking about the [improvements] we had been making to the whole beer experience.”

The brand will still be driving awareness around its improvements in the later part of the year, once it seems appropriate. She says marketing will be “really important” for the future of the brand as it begins to recover from the hit of lockdown.

She concludes: “It’s about brand trust and as we emerge from tough times really building that trust with consumers, which will play a crucial role for our financial recovery.”