Something’s brewing: the evolution of beer adverts in 2019

Beer drinkers are changing, demographics are evolving and therefore, so are the adverts they’re fed. Expectations for the humble advertising campaign have skyrocketed - it’s no longer enough for a brand to sit atop a frothy throne and declare themselves the KING of beers.

Both BrewDog and Carlsberg have taken note and shifted their advertising approach accordingly. Brazen declarations of greatness are a thing of the past as new era of self-aware, witty and subversive campaigns emerges; brands are poking fun at the very notion of what a beer advert should be.

Here SoundOut looks at whether the surprising campaigns from two of the most well-known brands in the industry have successfully resonated with real consumers.

BrewDog: Punk IPA

Truth be told, BrewDog didn’t flip the script with their new ad. They pulverised the very un-punk notion of one.

The ad features a plain white background with the words ‘ADVERT’ stamped across in black, a stationary can of BrewDog’s signature Punk IPA and a roaring metal track in the background. That’s it: no storyline, no animation, no highly-paid Danish actors. BrewDog claim that this is “the most honest you’ll ever see”. It’s also the most jarring.

Unsurprisingly our panel absolutely hated it. Of all commercials that we have ever tested on the SoundOut platform – the kind with storylines and scripts and super cute mascots - BrewDog’s aggressive anti-advert ‘ADVERT’ sits feebly in the 10th percentile.

The graph below shows you the average engagement of the reviewers during each second of the commercial. As the reality of a truly no-frills advert begins to sink in, engagement takes a steep nosedive and never recovers:

It’s a slippery slope, to the sweet release of silence.

The distribution of 0-10 ratings mirrors this downhill trajectory. This graph shows how each of the ratings from the reviewers were spread over the 0-10 range and over a quarter of users who reviewed this ad rated it a 0 overall.

BrewDog have built their cultural values around the punk ethos; the most concentrated application of this ethos is in their marketing –vetoing traditional adverts in favour of shocking publicity stunts. In 2015, BrewDog co-founder James Watt wrote “You would be better off blowtorching your hard-earned cash than spending it on advertising”.

Despite all the vitriolic hyperbole, here we are in 2019 with a shiny new BrewDog advert. The advert may well be the ultimate anti-ad, ad campaign. But it’s an ad campaign nonetheless. Consumers found it acutely unpleasant and it’s one of the lowest scoring in our entire database. Adding insult to injury, 79% of panellists were actively discouraged from purchasing BrewDog after watching the ad.

No doubt, producing an advert that people enjoy isn’t what BrewDog’s set out to do. But actively diminishing sales and alienating potential customers isn’t a winning strategy. BrewDog should focus more energy on actually selling their beers and less desperately clutching onto their diminishing punk credentials.

Punks have still got to eat, just like the rest of us.

Carlsberg: #NewBrew

Less anti-ad, and more anti-Carlsberg. It all started on twitter, as these things tend to do. Earlier this year, Carlsberg began promoting real consumer tweets slating their lager for tasting like ‘stale breadsticks’, ‘the rancid piss of Satan’ and (most delightfully graphic) “the bath water that your nan died in”. No, this wasn’t the work of a disgruntled social media intern’s final f-u to the corporate man. Turns out, in a plot twist to end all plot twists, this was a calculated move from Carlsberg. The brand was laying the foundations for the release of their new and improved product: Carlsberg Pilsner. It was out with the old (lager AND slogan), as Carlsberg admitted that theirs probably wasn’t the “best beer in the world” after all. In place of the rancid, breadstick flavoured corpse-water? A revamped, perfectly balanced Danish Pilsner a.k.a #NewBrew.

To introduce this new Danish iteration of Carlsberg to the masses, the brand enlisted ultimate Danish icon Mads Mikkleson, to announce that "in the UK, Carlsberg pursued being the biggest, not the best and the beer suffered". Still a subversive ad, but charmingly so. Our panel reacted positively; contrast reviewer engagement here with that of the BrewDog advert.

A steady incline demonstrates a consistently entertaining and engrossing advert, with a satisfying peak at the end as Mikkelson hints at watery vengeance for Carlsberg’s crimes against lager

The #NewBrew campaign sits in the 75th percentile of our database. In the 35-44 year old male demographic alone, the ad’s position soars to the 92nd percentile and 35-44 year old females aren’t far behind in the 89th. Where this advert falls flat is with the younger female demographics: the advert is a below average performer in the 25-34 year-old female demographic, sitting in the 43rd percentile. But overall, #NewBrew signals a successful evolution for Carlsberg, as the brand repositions itself to suit the changing tastes of modern drinkers.

You can access the full SoundOut reports here:

Carlsberg - #NewBrew

Brewdog - ADVERT

Comparison: Carlsberg vs BrewDog

Copyright SoundOut 2019