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Probably the bravest advertising campaign of the moment (and best PR stunt)

Probably the bravest advert of the moment

Probably the bravest advert of the moment

Sometimes those creative minds over in ad land create a campaign that infiltrates everyday life. It does exactly what it says on the tin. Have a break. Every little helps. These are just some of the phrases born from commercials which have become part of our daily conversations, resulting in untold PR gains.

But what happens when a company realises the slogan it has built a reputation on is actually a lie, or at least an artistic interpretation of the truth. What happens if Red Bull doesn’t give you wings? Or actually, we’re not worth it after all?

That’s exactly what seems to have happened with Carlsberg. In a harsh marketing and PR strategy U-turn, the beer brand is now owning up to its shortcomings as part of its new advertising campaign, which doubles up as one of the best PR stunts we can remember.

Introducing a new Pilsner recipe, Carlsberg has admitted its original offering was ‘Probably not the best beer in the world. So we’ve changed it.’

Reactions are brewing

Bold and brave, the change in advertising approach hit the headlines causing a wave of PR coverage. It was talked about in industry press, as well as national titles such as The Guardian, Daily Mail and The Sun, with David Mitchell dedicating a full page to it in The Observer.

Videos of Carlsberg employees reading out mean tweets about the original beer have formed part of the campaign, with viral potential by the keg-load. It’s something we’ve seen celebrities do for years as part of the Jimmy Kimmel Live! show. And there is something endearing about watching ‘successful’ people have the humility to accept criticism, so why would this be different for a brand?

Of course, it isn’t the first company to ever take ownership of its faults. It is, however, the first that built years of marketing activity based around its ‘best’ boast, only to then come clean and admit it (probably) wasn’t.

Pint-sized success?

Although this is largely being discussed as a marketing U-turn, it is actually a complete business overhaul. By listening to customer feedback and moving with the times (let’s face it, even a non-drinker understands micro-breweries and artisan ales have switched up the world’s beer menu), Carlsberg has completely changed its product. With hops, barley and recipe all improved, it is now known as Carlsberg Danish Pilsner.

The significant interest and commentary surrounding this really demonstrates how the campaign has got people talking. But as we all know the measurement of PR and advertising success is more than just conversations. The truth is in the pudding, or in this case the pilsner.

Will this marketing U-turn pay off? Probably.


Want to discuss brave campaigns for your brand? Email [email protected].

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