It seems like every time you turn on the TV, there’s a good chance you’re going to see at least one beer commercial. Budweiser, Heineken, and even lesser known brands are always rolling out new campaigns and commercials. Beer is a part of American culture, just like it is in many other countries, which is why it’s surprising that some brands around the world are struggling.
According to Mintel, overall beer volumes in the UK have remained at a steady 4.2 billion liters since 2012. Meanwhile, lager is even worse off, with volume sales falling from 3.18 billion liters in 2014 to an estimated 3.15 billion liters in 2015. For an area that loves beer just as much as the U.S. does, those numbers are a bit surprising. The decline in lager preference has been difficult for several brands, including popular options like the Danish Carlsberg.
Carlsberg is a well-known brand that people from all around the world recognize (when I went to Copenhagen, that was the one thing I was determined to try). Unfortunately, due to the overall downward trend of the lager market, Carlsberg has been struggling. Liam Newton, vice president of marketing at Carlsberg UK, told Marketing Week that there’s a need to rebrand because lager brands have become interchangeable to many people. “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,” he said. However, no one behaves or speaks quite like the Danish, and by rebranding Carlsberg to reflect its roots, Newton hopes to differentiate the brand.
In an effort to bring people in the UK back to the brand, the company has launched a new campaign to rebrand the drink. The marketing campaign is called “The Danish Way,” and so far it has made a lot of changes to the look and feel of the beverage. The company seems to be taking a page out of Budweiser’s book—which is known for using American pride as one of its selling points—by selling the drinks in new Danish-themed packaging for both Carlsberg and Carlsberg Export brands. The company has also released a TV commercial featuring Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, which highlights all the best things Denmark has to offer.
While riding on a bike—which is the most popular form of transportation in Copenhagen—Mikkelsen lists all the great characteristics of Danish people: their work-life balance, the Danish emphasis on “hygge” (which means a form of everyday togetherness), and the fact that they’re ranked as the happiest country in the world. Although the commercial is simple in nature, it’s bound to have a great impact on its target audience: the British.
People in the UK are currently fascinated by Scandinavian culture, probably because it’s much more relaxed than their own. By mentioning key elements of average Danish life, Mikkelsen is undoubtedly appealing to Carlsberg’s target audience. Carlsberg is also hoping to appeal to the British on a digital front as well. As the Marketing Week article points out, the company has partnered with Shazam, an app with over six million UK users, 70 percent of which are between the ages of 18 and 34. By scanning Carlsberg items in the app, users have the chance to win Danish-inspired luxury prizes such as “hygge” home kits and a trip to Copenhagen. With this rebranding, Carlsberg is bringing the lager back to its roots, while hoping to capitalize on the current “Scandi-craze” going on in the UK.
Through its efforts, Carlsberg has demonstrated deep knowledge on how to effectively rebrand a company. It’s staying true to what it is by going back to its roots, but is also using that as an opportunity to appeal to its target market. It’s encouraging people to immerse themselves in the Danish culture, not only by offering them Denmark’s best lager, but through prizes as well. With any luck, the campaign will pay off, and we’ll see those statistics from Mintel start on an upward climb.