INITIATIVE, London / CARLSBERG / 2020
“Probably the best beer in the world” is a beloved part of UK culture.
But the beer no longer lived up to its promise, with drinkers expecting more from a Carlsberg.
We analysed thousands of tweets going back a decade and found something we didn’t expect:
“Carlsberg tastes like the bathwater my nan died in”
“Carlsberg tastes like the rancid p*ss of Satan”
Hundreds of tweets as creative as they were brutal.
For Carlsberg to return to glory, we met the problem head on.
We went back to the brewery to create a New Danish Pilsner, rebrewed from head-to-hop.
But how do we convince a nation of brand lovers and product haters that our beer had changed for the better?
Our three objectives:
-Reinvigorate Carlsberg’s role as cultural conversation starter: earned media
-Drive reappraisal of Carlsberg beer: consideration & brand health
-Get Carlsberg back on people’s repertoire: sales lift
We threw out the marketing rule book risking undoing decades of brand building to make enough noise in culture to outshine the negativity. We did this in three stages:
Turn haters into new brew hype: spark a massive cultural conversation by unexpectedly promoting and platforming every twitter-troll, past and present, we could find. Then hold off and let the rumour mill whirl out of control.
Honesty is the best policy: Announce our humble relaunch on a huge scale, dominating stature-driving and mass-media environments to ensure everyone who was talking about Carlsberg saw our New Danish Pilsner.
Let the beer do the talking: Put our money where their mouths are through a mass sampling campaign, personally answering each and every hater with a chance to try our New Brew. And going further using location data and retargeting tactics to ensure the whole country knew we’d listened and changed... for the better.
Turn haters into new brew hype
Through a unique partnership with Twitter, the most outspoken place on the web, we promoted the worst tweets about Carlsberg and asked Carlsberg staff to read them in “Mean Tweet” videos.
“Carlsberg tastes like the bathwater my nan died in” was seen by millions of people.
Honesty is the best policy
With rumours flying, we launched an integrated, national media campaign to reveal our new pilsner.
Across TV, commuter and large format Outdoor and statement-driving Print and Digital we lit “Probably Not the Best” up in lights, subverting decades of brand-building. We landed our message with digital retargeting, and instigated honest & hilarious conversations on social around our new brew.
Let the beer do the talking
We replied to over 6000 tweets with a free pint voucher, established trial points for commuters and gave away beers via mobile to people heading to the pub.
Through a brave brand move and some Danish honesty, we turned latent brand love into new beer love.
We reinvigorated our role in culture, and got the nation talking:
• Over 250 pieces of earned media coverage
• 1.07B earned impressions
• Recognition is even sweeter from your peers:
o Mark Ritson - “Probably the best new ad campaign of the year”.
o Keith Weed - “Love to see @CarlsbergUK’s honest, untraditional
approach to #marketing”.
o VICE - “Millennials might not love booze as much as they used to—but
they sure do like a good self-deprecating shitpost.”
o Marketing Week - “Carlsberg’s ‘Probably Not’ crowned campaign of the
We regained drinkers respect & drove reappraisal of Carlsberg Pilsner:
• +8% in consideration
• +11% in recommendation.
Most importantly, we got Carlsberg back on people’s repertoire:
• +14% rate of sale YoY.
A risk worth taking?