Carlsberg has shifted from football sponsorship to live experiences, including music festivals. Inapub caught up with Paul Morris, brand activation and sponsorship manager, during the RIZE festival in August.
As a football fan, there has been one word I often notice on advertising hoardings – Carlsberg. The brewery's partnership with the England football team – and its continuing relationship with Liverpool FC – has been a mainstay of the company's marketing strategy, and the beer has become somewhat synonymous with the beautiful game.
But now, perhaps eager to get to the harder to reach Millennial market, it has shifted focus towards live music and experiences.
When I sit down with Paul to chat at RIZE festival in a small portable cabin behind the Danish Quarter – the large marquee with wooden fittings that the brewery uses for such events – it is clear the size of the operation is massive.
Carlsberg can't offer an exact figure on how many pints are pulled of either it's main brand lager or Export, the latter only available in the Danish Quarter. But entering early, I see across the festival site numerous stalls being kegged up, ready for a quite frankly enormous amount of beer to be consumed.
"It's about experience. There has been a shift change from football, but we have always been involved in festivals," Paul explained, "and we have upped the ante with the big five year contract with Live Nation.
"The Millennial audience, for the health of the category, we need to bring them into it with Carlsberg mainstream lager, and the way to do that is with music and iconic brands.
"And what better way to be inspired than to sit and watch your favourite acts with your friends at a festival?" He said.
According to Paul, festivals come up repeatedly as the time when people have their best times, and the thing they look back on most fondly. But how have Carlsberg been supporting the on-trade with its focus on experiences?
"We have recently done work with Stonegate and Greene King on using some of the assets we have with Live Nation to support their work on live music and entertainment," Paul continued.
"Week in, week out, we drive promotions. We try to do things slightly differently with the on-trade than the off-trade, and we do have our music hub and various opportunities for pubs through POS and other promotions."
Paul encourages publicans to come to the live events themselves, to see what the brewery can offer – and, of course, witness people enjoying a cold pint of Carlsberg.
"Some of our free trade pubs often won't have Export on the bar, so promoting it at events like RIZE, and seeing what people think of it, can be a great way for publicans to see first hand what we offer."
The brand is also promoting its Somersby ciders at the event, including its strawberry and rhubarb variants – as well as its 0 per cent ABV beer, from a responsibility perspective.
But fundamentally, it is all about creating great experiences – and making people associate that with Carlsberg.
Paul explains: "At RIZE we have a team going around the Danish Quarter asking people what is their favourite act and who they are excited about seeing. We say, 'Carlsberg wants to make your experience better, would you like to watch that band from the side of the stage'? And then offering them the opportunity to do so."
This is fundamentally what the move appears to be – putting Carlberg and its beers front and centre of an entire generation's experience of an event.
And I have to say on a summer's evening with a cold, well poured pint of Export in my hand, watching some great bands with my wife, it is a pretty good strategy.
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