#PRWIN: You’re Absolutely Right. Our Beer Tastes Like Crap.
Simply put – skunky beer wasn’t exactly winning Carlsberg new customers, let alone a fanbase.
Danish brewer Carlsberg Beer did business in a very crowded market, featuring the likes of brewing giant such as Busch and Budweiser as well as the multitudes of regional and craft beers. To complete, the beer maker had decided that quantity was more important than flavor. Flagging sales were showing that their approach to the market was going in the wrong direction.
With lots of negativity toward their product and the ensuing bad press, Carlsberg Beer opened its wallet and dropped 20 million pounds (about 26.7 million American dollars) on an ad campaign that did double duty as PR.1
Their original slogan, “probably the best lager in the world”, wasn’t proving to be entirely accurate. In a move that was brutally honest, they changed that slogan into an admission of the truth and a solution to the problem – “Probably not the best beer in the world. So we’ve changed it.” (Nope, that’s not your typical slogan for sure).
And changed they did. Not just the beer itself (we’ll get to that) but also the packaging was redesigned to be more eco-friendly, the tall, thin glasses were replaced with a shorter, stemmed design, and to signify their new commitment to a better beer company, they rebranded their flagship product to become Carlsberg Danish Pilsner.
Carlsberg’s Vice President of Marketing explained the decision: “…we lost our way. We focused on brewing quantity, not quality; we became one of the cheapest, not the best. In order to live up to our promise of being ‘probably the best beer in the world’, we had to start again. We’ve completely re-brewed Carlsberg from head to hop.”1
But where the beer maker got even more “brutal” (and VERY HONEST) were what they did with tweets that lambasted their inferior brew – they made them part of the campaign.
Some of the highlights included:
“Carlsberg tastes like stale breadsticks”
Carlsberg was like “…drinking the bathwater your nan died in”2 (Okay, that one made me a bit ill.)
Oh, there were more, but I’ll spare those of you who are eating lunch right now.
Carlsberg went to reformulating their product. The new flagship beer (told ya I’d get there) was rolled out, while the alcohol content of 3.8% remained unchanged, it was touted to have a “crisper, fuller flavor”. Opinions on the new brew were mixed, but the takeaway here is that people were actively engaging with the company – and buying.
What the beer maker did in laying bare so much of it’s own criticism on display, it’s no wonder campaign garnered quite a lot of media attention that further spread the word that the Danish company was making amends:
AdAge: Carlsberg Admits It’s ‘Probably Not the Best Beer in the World’ in Rebrand Campaign
Daily Mail: ‘Probably NOT the best beer in the world… so we’ve changed it!’ Carlsberg concedes its lager is not up to scratch as it tweaks 46-year-old slogan with launch of new recipe and a £20million ad campaign
Marketing Week: Carlsberg admits it probably isn’t the best beer in the world as it overhauls the brand and the brew
The point here is that Carlsberg could have gone a more “traditional” route of just rebranding and reformulating their most well-known beer. Instead, they went above and beyond – they openly admitted letting quantity take precedent over quality, they acknowledge they created a problem. They let their audience know they took their grievances to heart and communicated that they were doing something about it.
They disrupted the industry by cutting through the noise with something raw and humanizing – laying bare their own flaws to their audience.
They got ahead of the real crisis and turned their own weaknesses into a strength.
It may be from your own error or circumstances outside your control, but we’re all going to endure some kind of company crisis. How you handle the fallout is going to make the difference between redemption and a PR disaster. Our crisis management utilizes precise, proactive PR to repair your wounded image and give reassurance to your audiences that you are taking the right amount of initiative.
But if you have a crisis right now, call us at 888-919-4034
Sky News. “Carlsberg: We’re probably not the best lager in the world – but our new one is better”. 17 April 2019, news.sky.com/story/carlsberg-were-probably-not-the-best-lager-in-the-world-but-our-new-one-is-better-11696075#:~:text=Carlsberg%20has%20admitted%20its%20lager,to%20tempt%20back%20disappointed%20drinkers.
Chapman, Ben. “Carlsberg ‘probably not’ best beer in world despite long-running slogan, brewer admits”. Independent. 17 April 2019, independent.co.uk/news/business/news/carlsberg-probably-not-best-beer-world-lager-brewer-a8874016.html.