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Carlsberg's 'Newsroom' felt like a standout content strategy in 2015, combining old-school acumen and great creative with modern PR.

The multichannel project began in March 2015, underpinned by Fold7, TMS, OMD and CliffordFrench, and went on to win a Masters of Marketing award.

Here are the highlights of a prodigious amount of work and some background on the newsroom project.

The brief

In a market with declining beer sales and a new audience of beer drinkers engaging with media in an entirely different way, Carlsberg knew it needed to change the way it spoke to its core audience.  

Yet in spite of a need for change, it was the existing strap line, 'If Carlsberg did…' that resonated the most with beer drinkers.

So, how to use this brand asset but do it in a way that would be appropriate to broaden the appeal of the brand beyond traditional sports and football markets?

The strategy

The strategy was to combine large-scale 'hero' advertising moments with planned calendar opportunities.

At the same time, the cross-agency group operated a reactive 'newsroom' approach, applying an 'If Carlsberg did…' spin to news stories and current affairs to bring to life the brand proposition and be part of consumer conversation.  

Online and offline channels would be used to create the most scale and talkability.

Each content piece and idea was judged by its potential to engage audiences through PR and social channels. The 'Newsroom' created some of the most memorable content in 2015.

Hero content

A poster that serves beer

'Probably the best poster in the world', the world's first beer-serving poster, complete with Carlsberg fount so consumers could help themselves.

The poster dispensed 1,400 glasses of Carlsberg in one day with PR reaching over 60m consumers globally within 24 hours. The Guardian called it "probably the best marketing stunt so far this year".

The hashtag #probablythebest generated over 3m Twitter impressions in one day.

carlsberg poster that serves beer

'Beer Beauty'

New product development was taken to the next level, using genuine consumer insight to launch 'Beer Beauty', a range of grooming products containing real Carlsberg lager.

A retail partnership with www.findmeagift.co.uk was forged to sell the products.

'Beer Beauty' sold out within 24 hours, with over 6,000 visitors hitting the site on the day of launch, and media coverage reaching over 5m people.

beer beauty by carlsberg

'If Carlsberg did cases'

During the summer holidays when travel conversations were at their peak, weary holidaymakers were surprised with cases of Carlsberg among their luggage on the carousel.

The content generated from the stunt, 'If Carlsberg did Cases', reached over 13m people worldwide.

if carlsberg did cases

Agile content

'Are you beer body ready?'

When Protein World asked Londoners if they were 'beach body ready' (sparking controversy and a good deal of debate), Carlsberg was agile and quickly responded with a tongue-in-cheek ad immediately adjacent on the Underground, asking people if they were 'beer body ready'.

More than 30m people were exposed to the ad, which only ran for 24 hours, through media coverage of the debate.

beer body ready?

Probably the best use of an Oyster card

As commuters' frustration levels with the 2015 tube strikes increased, Carlsberg lightened the tone with a suggestion for how to use redundant Oyster cards - 'Probably the best use of your tube card today'.

tube strike marketing 

Howzat for agile ad placement?

To celebrate England's Ashes victory, a print placement next to the Ashes coverage in The Mirror was turned around in under three hours.

carlsberg press coverage during the ashes

Newsjacking and planned content

Social engagement

The newsroom capitalised on areas of popular culture to target audiences at a time when relevant conversation was at its peak.

For example, the Carlsberg social accounts published 'Game of Thrones' content only to existing fans of the show at the launch of the new series.

The brand also tapped into 'May the Fourth' with its #StarWarsDay Vine series, showing the use of 'the force' on Carlsberg cans.

This Vine series reached over 3m people in 24 hours, with engagement rates of 17%.

Social content over the course of the newsroom's 2015 activity exceeded industry engagement benchmarks by 1,200%.

April Fools drones

With the launch of 'drone delivery', Carlsberg created a topical April Fools' PR stunt leading people to believe it had created the world's first beer-delivering drones, able to deliver Carlsberg to locations across the UK within 30 minutes.

This April Fools' drone content reached over 4.3m people in 48 hours.

carlsberg drone april fool

The results

'Hero' content has driven brand awareness, while planned and reactive content gives Carlsberg permission to get involved in conversations authentically.

In addition to 'pushed' brand content, 230 pieces of coverage were generated across national and global publications.

Carlsberg achieved a total reach of 135m people. At the campaign's peak:  

  • Total brand awareness doubled.
  • Spontaneous awareness up 2%.
  • Advertising awareness up 3%.
  • Media share of voice up 5% vs. target.
  • Rate of sale, both on and off trade, are up year-on-year, as well as volume and value share. 

The campaign lives on with the "Newsroom" team continuing to produce creative content that engages audiences in a way that entertains (rather than jars) audiences on social media.

Ben Davis

Published 5 January, 2016 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is a senior writer at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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