This Carlsberg article was written by Tony Malcolm, Creative Director and Non-Exec at YesMore Agency. Follow Tony Malcolm on Linkedin here.
The word ‘probably’ has served Carlsberg well over the last few decades.
It has allowed them to allude that their product actually is the best lager in the world, but of course, the advertising authorities will not let them make such an overtly competitive claim.
Lager drinkers were able to pass their own judgement on this claim made by Carlsberg, that has been a staple of many bars up and down the UK on draft, in bottles and in cans.
Most lager ‘connoisseurs’ were not exactly the discerning type and as long as it didn’t burn a hole in your pocket when out on the lash with the lads, it would pass muster and be necked back with gusto.
It was at this point that lager connoisseurs became lager louts as they spilled out onto the streets scrapping with all and sundry, especially around football occasions where the pitch-side hoardings flashed up the Carlsberg logo as the foul-mouthed chants rained down from the terraces.
But something is happening in lager land. People are drinking less alcohol, but at a higher quality and price . It’s no big surprise that as micro breweries start flooding the market with far more palatable brews, that Carlsberg thought they should ‘probably’ get with the programme.
From brewing in quantity, they now believe they have to start concentrating on quality with a new premium pilsner lager. To move their reputation up a few notches, they feel they have to highlight their past transgressions.
Was Carlsberg lager brewed for the mass market really the best lager in the world? Probably not. In fact, definitely not.
In a rather refreshing, yet surprising twist, Carlsberg have admitted they lost their way and concentrated on quantity, not quality and are promoting the negative tweets about their previous brew. Tweets that say their old lager tasted like ‘stale breadsticks’ or ‘the piss of Satan’.
It brings to mind the problem faced by Stella Artois when they went in the opposite direction. From running ads about how their lager was ‘Reassuringly Expensive’, it suddenly got the moniker of ‘wife-beater’ when they started selling it through supermarket chains for less than the price of bottled water.
Recent Carlsberg work has started to add an air of lager sophistication to their comms, like the Danish King Canute trying to stop the tide.
Messages like ‘Brewed from Head to Hop’, sounds more like the language of CAMRA than Carlsberg.
This new twist seems like a bit of a gamble. Negativity around a brand has worked for the likes of Marmite, which has become synonymous with the idea that some love the product and some hate it.
I suppose Carlsberg is a yeast extract based product too in that respect.
We at YesMore admire their bravery, but wonder whether it verges a bit too far on the side of insanity.
Dissing their own product and siding with the haters, smacks of being disingenuous. Like the Brexit politicians ringing their hands when found out their former claims were dishonest.
We will never again be fooled by their probably line, now they have highlighted it’s leanings towards the ‘probably not’ end of the scale.
Perhaps their campaign about to break for their new premium pilsner will salvage their diminished brewing reputation. Perhaps their disarming transparency will pay off. Mads Mikkelsen, the Danish actor might charm us into overlooking how they fobbed us off with an inferior beer in the past.
Carlsberg have experienced a drop off in sales of 1.7% to its lowest point in two years. This is point where they hope they can turn that tide.
With a £20 million spend behind it, new fount and flash chalice glasses, failure will not be an option.
We hope for their sakes, they’re not throwing their new pilsner baby out with the stale breadsticks tasting bathwater.
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