Carlsberg shows how attitudes have changed since admitting it wasn’t the best beer in the world

As Carlsberg UK enters the second-phase of its turnaround it admits that there has been disappointing off-trade results.

calrsberg mean tweetsCarlsberg is shifting its marketing strategy to show how consumer sentiment towards its beer has changed following the launch of its ‘Probably not’ marketing campaign almost a year ago.

The beer brand has once again trawled Twitter to find comments about its beer that employees are asked to read out. However, where previously it looked at ‘mean tweets’, this time it is promoting ‘keen’ tweets.

The video shows employees guess the missing words in tweets with comments including: “The new Carlsberg is a******* c****” (‘actually class’); “#NewBrew is s*** **!!” (‘spot on’) and “New Carlsberg a******** s****” (‘actually slaps’).

In addition, Danish actor and brand ambassador Mads Mikkelsen makes an appearance in a series of digital films, created by Fold7, in which he is seen reacting to tweets that reveal what the public is really saying about the new Carlsberg Danish Pilsner.

The campaign goes live today (3 March) across TV, social, broadcast, out-of-home and digital, all aiming to drive awareness and trial of the new brew.

Carlsberg is also creating thousands of outdoor posters that will rollout across the UK from early April, with the message: “We’ve changed the beer. Only you can change your mind.” These will be supported by other posters highlighting tweets from people that have tried the new beer and have changed their mind, as Carlsberg encourages consumers to reappraise the brand.

In pubs and bars, meanwhile, Carlsberg will run activations including offering 50,000 beer drinkers aged 18 years and over a chance to claim a free pint of Carlsberg Danish Pilsner at participating venues.

Speaking exclusively to Marketing Week, Carlsberg UK’s vice-president of marketing Liam Newton says keeping the “honesty” of the original campaign is key to the new work.

He explains: “It’s not just about trying to do a flippant marketing campaign but acknowledging we’d lost our way a bit.”

Carlsberg’s ‘Probably not the best beer in the world’ campaign, an inversion of its ‘Probably the best beer in the world’ tagline, launched in April.

Alongside an ad campaign, the launch included a ‘head to hop’ rebrew, new packs and glassware, and more premium positioning as a Danish pilsner. The success of the marketing campaign saw it win Marketing Week’s campaign of the year in 2019.

This latest marketing activity marks the start of the second phase of its turnaround, which looks to highlight the improve taste of the re-brewed pilsner.

Newton says: “It’s really year two trying to drive trial and awareness of the beer because we know that when people drink the beer, especially in the new glass, their perception of Carlsberg changes for the positive.”

The impact of ‘Probably not’

Ten months on from the original launch, Carlsberg says it has seen a “significant” uptick in sales in bars and pubs, with more consumers trying out the rebrewed beer. Data from CGA provided by the brand shows Carlsberg in 3% value growth since it introduced the new beer and glassware in the on-trade.

However, it admits its performance in-store still “needs work”.

Carlsberg experienced a significant decline in retail sales prior to the relaunch but since April has “drastically reduced” the decline, although it would not be drawn on exact numbers. Brand consideration, preference and recommendation scores are all significantly ahead of Carling and Fosters, according to data from Ipsos provided by Carlsberg.

It has also seen that when drinkers try the new brew, they are more likely to “definitely consider Carlsberg in the future” or select it as “their first choice”. Frequency of consumption “over the past four weeks” is growing at statistically significant levels, according to Ipsos data again provided by Carlsberg

Newton says: “We’re very happy with how things have gone in year one but we’ve still got a lot to do in year two.”

He adds: “Some things went better than expected some things went less well. We are constantly course correcting [marketing] to make sure that everything is working as well as it could.”

There are three key measures of success for the brand: consumer perception, sales in pubs and bars, and sales in shops. Newton acknowledges the brand still has “some way to go”, particularly in the off-trade where sales remain disappointing.

Kantar data provided by Carlsberg shows that 89% of shoppers who had bought Carlsberg in a shop over the summer said they were likely to buy it again. However, Newton admits that this is an area which “needs work”, with less people trialling the beer.

He says: “The off-trade, we have a bit more work to do in that. We haven’t seen that turnaround but that’s why it’s a two-year job because getting everything right in one year is hard.”

Newton cites packaging and on-pack promotions as two areas the brand did not quite get right in the original campaign.

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