Foster’s is reviving its Good Call campaign starring Australian duo Brad and Dan after a four-year hiatus as it looks to bring some humour back to a beer market it believes is taking itself too seriously.
Originally launched in 2010, the ads featured two Australian agony uncles answering British men’s burning questions. It was hugely successful during its five-year run, helping to drive 70% sales growth between 2010 and 2013 and establish Foster’s as the UK’s biggest selling beer brand in supermarkets and off licences.
It was also very effective, winning the IPA Effectiveness Awards Grand Prix in 2014 with an ROI of £32 for every £1 spent.
Unsurpsingly, the decision to retire the campaign in 2015 caused some raised eyebrows at the time. But Nick Casby, senior brand director for everyday beer at Heineken, explains it was “an easy decision” to bring the campaign, and Brad and Dan, back.
He explains: “The humour is very much welcomed at the moment with the world being quite serious and negative. Bringing a bit of refreshing Aussie optimism has done really well with consumers.”
The new £6m campaign, created by adam&eveDDB, is being rolled out across TV, radio and social media, with the first 30-second ad gently mocking craft beer. It sees Harry from Abergavenny in Wales seeking advice on what to serve his “fancy pants” brother-in-law at a BBQ.
Brad and Dan tell the Welshman to put Fosters in an old jam jar and call it something obscure so he’ll enjoy the beer.
Most consumers seemed to say ‘we hadn’t realised you’d ever gone’.
Nick Casby, Heineken
“We’re poking fun at people being pretentious and knocking them down a peg or two without going too far,” says Casby.
Heineken, Foster’s parent company, carried out extensive research to see if Brad and Dan would still be as popular today as they were five years. It found that the characters scored “really highly” among consumers.
“Most consumers seemed to say ‘we hadn’t realised you’d ever gone’,” Casby adds.
Although Foster’s has no plans to change the format of the ads, it will be updating the campaign with more “contextually relevant” questions and more content online. One of the criticisms levelled at the old campaign was over sexism, with Casby saying Foster’s will shy away from content that might feel “outdated” now.
“The world has changed quite a lot in four years. There are things that were relevant [then] which somehow feel quite outdated now,” Casby explains.
Social media will also play a growing role, reflecting changing media habits among its consumer base. Brad and Dan, for example, will be on Instagram and Facebook responding to questions in real-time.
He adds: “That’s the great thing [about the new campaign]. Five or six years ago you couldn’t do so much instantaneous real-life dilemmas because the technology wasn’t there.”
A bad call?
When Foster’s ended the Good Call campaign in 2014, it cited a need to “evolve” the brand. Speaking at the time, the brand said men’s attitudes had shifted from “laid back and carefree” to “a more can-do attitude and of ingenuity”.
However, Casby admits that the influence of craft and a focus in the market on quality and provenance meant Foster’s began to doubt the campaign.
He explains: “Brad and Dan had lost a little bit of momentum. At the time things were getting a bit more serious and focus was on quality in the market, which maybe made us question whether doing humorous emotional advertising was the way to go. “
Heineken is adamant that Foster’s is still performing well in the UK market, citing figures that it is the number one lager in the off-trade.
However, the lager market overall has struggled. In the four years to the end of 218, total volume sales of lager dropped by 5.6%, according to food and drink research firm CGA, as consumers switched to premium beer.
Foster’s says bringing back Brad and Dan is not a one-off, with plans for it to “run forever”. And the revived campaign, which first aired over the weekend, has already received a positive reaction, according to Casby.
Casby concludes: “We can already see internally and externally that [people] want a belly laugh from Foster’s.”