Carlsberg Export is embarking on a Danish-infused makeover in the first step of a major refresh for the Carlsberg brand in the UK.
The campaign is designed 'to revitalise Carlsberg', said Liam Newton, the company's UK's vice-president for marketing, addressing the issue of declining sales volume by widening consumers' perception of the brewery beyond that of simply being responsible for iconic ads and the strapline 'Probably the best…'.
From January 2017 Carlsberg Export will sport labelling inspired by the cross from the Danish flag, a design theme that will run across all formats, beer fonts, and new-shaped glassware. Copenhagen – or København – will be given more prominence too, alongside the signature of founder, JC Jacobsen. It will also move to a new 33cl-sized bottled format.
The rebrand will continue into the summer of 2017. While further details are to be confirmed, three limited edition bottlings of Carlsberg 3.8% will be released. Going under the name of The København Collection, each bottle will have striking text celebrating a different ingredient.
The moves are in response to extensive consumer research by the company highlighting the shift away from standard and premium lagers by millennials. While the lager category still accounts for 75% of value in the beer market, 'it [the lager category] doesn't resonate with them,' said Carlsberg UK's Hannah Searle.
Just as millennials had a 'desire to be different', with their search for 'unique and special occasions', so brands need to engage in 'a more meaningful way', said Searle.
Image is one of the issues, according to Newton, who cited taste tests of 10 lagers as an example. When tasted blind by 200 consumers, Carlsberg Export came out top, while when it appeared in branded glassware, it slipped down the ranking.
'Many consumers see lagers as all the same,' he added. 'We've got a fantastic story around Carlsberg Lager with which to change this perception.' While Carlsberg and Carlsberg Export are brewed in the UK at its Northampton brewery, the recipes come from the Copenhagen headquarters, with deliveries of fresh Carlsberg yeast every week to the Northampton brewery.
With a £15m marketing spend earmarked for 2017, the campaign will kick off in the public arena with ads fronted by Danish actor and former Bond villain, Mads Mikkelsen in March.
So what would Newton see as success in 12 months' time? Not just recalling the well-known 'Probably…' adverts, he said. Rather 'If consumers can tell we are from Denmark,' he said. 'If people start talking about our beer, and know we have some great brews.'