Carlsberg focuses on its Danish roots as new campaign taps into ‘hygge’ trend

Carlsberg is launching a £15m campaign in a bid to stand out from competitors, after recognising previous marketing campaigns had led it to become “interchangeable” with other beer brands.

Carlsberg is launching a new campaign focusing on its Danish roots in a bid to lure consumers back into the lager category, as the beer brand claims it needs to take “bold action” to fight against sales decline.

The £15m integrated marketing campaign called “The Danish Way” aims to revitalise the Carlsberg and Carlsberg Export brands in the UK by focusing on its Danish provenance.

Central to the campaign is a TV ad, starring Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen and created by Fold7, who ponders the secrets to his nation’s happiness as he cycles through the streets of Denmark.

New Danish-themed packaging for both the Carlsberg and Carlsberg Export brands rolled out in February and wider out-of-home, experiential, digital and social activity is also planned throughout the year. OMD UK is planning and buying the media for the campaign.

The brand claims ‘The Danish Way’ marks the start of a “bold” new marketing approach from Carlsberg in the UK, aimed at tackling the long-term decline in the lager category head on. Through the campaign, it hopes consumers and beer drinkers will reappraise the brand.

Mintel figures back up the brand’s claims. Overall beer volumes in the UK have been broadly flat since 2012, around the 4.2 billion litres mark. Lager in particular seems to be struggling, with volume sales falling from 3.18 billion litres in 2014 to an estimated 3.15 billion litres in 2015.

“You have a large number of people who have dropped out of the standard larger category and are going more towards premium [brands],” Liam Newton, vice president of marketing at Carlsberg UK, tells Marketing Week. “In that standard larger area, the feedback we’ve had from consumers is that a lot of brands are interchangeable. Some people say we might taste similar, or behave and speak in a similar way.”

There are dramatic things happening in the beer category, and it requires bold action. We are not making little changes here and there. We’re consciously making a big move.

Liam Newton, Carlsberg UK

When asked if beer brands’ marketing campaigns has become too similar, Newton agrees and claims the bigger brands simply have not moved “with the times in the way that they should have”.

“They speak in a similar way, and marketing has a role to play, as they market in a similar way too. In terms of what we’re doing, we are trying to evolve. There are dramatic things happening in the beer category, and it requires bold action. We are not making little changes here and there. We’re consciously making a big move, to try and be much more relevant to the needs of consumers,” he explains.

Not jumping on the Scandi bandwagon

Central to the campaign is the fact that Denmark is known as being one of the happiest nations in the world due to their positive philosophy towards life, such as having a healthy work and social balance.

Scandinavian culture has become increasingly popular with British consumers over the past year, with the Danish word ‘hygge’ (also described as a “a form of everyday togetherness”) making for many media headlines. However, Newton claims the brand is not looking to capitalise on the current “Scandi-craze” and is simply “going back to basics”.

He explains: “Our Danish provenance may be a bit more interesting than four or five years ago, as there’s been this explosion of Scandi-cool. But this is not about jumping on the Scandi bandwagon, it’s about going back to basics. We’ve got this amazing brand that’s 170 years old, but people don’t know much about it.”

Evolving its digital strategy

The campaign also features a partnership with Shazam, an app with over six million UK users, 70% of which are aged 18–34. Users are invited to photo-scan shazamable Carlsberg Export branding on a number of touch points, including glassware that will be for sale in supermarkets.

Once scanned, consumers are linked to an immersive digital Carlsberg platform where they can discover content and win Danish-inspired luxury prizes, including ‘hygge’ home kits, wireless headphones and a trip for two to Copenhagen.

Newton says the campaign looks to be as “integrated as possible”, and aims to get its connected glassware into British homes. The Shazam partnership provides the brand with a new way of sharing stories about the brand, such as its history or how it has been working with Mads Mikkelsen.

Newton adds Carlsberg is looking to overhaul its digital strategy by focusing more on content, in a bid to “keep the conversation going” with consumers and keep the brand fresh in their minds.

He concludes: “Certainly what we’re trying to do this year is to keep the conversation going by making our content more appealing and relevant. That’s certainly a way we’re evolving our digital strategy.”

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