Despite a promising first three years of healthy growth in the UK, Coors Light was seeing volume sales in 2009-10 decline by 12%, a rate of decrease with worrying implications for potential retailer delisting.
It was a crucial moment for the brand and a do-or-die approach was agreed. Success would require Coors Light growing to become a top 10 beer brand in both categories by 2015. Based on its lowly existing status as 21st in on-trade and 22nd in off-trade at the start of 2011, achieving this would require an average sales growth of 31% in a mature market.
In the UK, the meaning and purpose of a Light beer was completely lost on British drinkers. The most common associations were predominantly negative and unappealing: that the Light name meant low alcohol; or was it low taste? Whatever it was, us Brits didn’t understand it, and we didn’t like it much either.
The result of this rather basic and fundamental level of miscomprehension was that it unclear to British drinkers who Coors Light was for. Was it for people on a diet? For people who didn’t like “proper” beer? In the absence of clarity, consumers made the natural leap of logic – they didn’t know who it was for, but knew it wasn’t for them.
Our task was to take a beer which prompted confusion amongst our audience and give it the personality to resonate with 18-24 male beer drinkers.
From the outset, we invested a disproportionate proportion of our budget into Social Media, to reflect our audience’s behaviour and bring Coors Light credibly into their lives.
This paid dividends with Zenith Optimedia’s proprietary Social Media measurement tool, Social Tools, ranking Coors Light in the top 5 brands lager brands for reach and engagement for the duration of the campaign period .
To demonstrate Coors Light’s modernity and reinforce our relevance to an 18-24 audience we ensured our channel selection matched their behaviour. A partnership with XBOX, a first for an alcohol brand, generated 46,000 downloads of a Jean Claude Van Damme avatar and over 10,000 competition entries. As part of a concerted effort to target students, we also used Student TV to make us ubiquitous with this audience.
This is a story of the long-term impact of advertising investment on business and brand success. In Summer 2014, just over 3 years since setting its crazily ambitious objective, Coors Light achieved its hallowed Top 10 ranking in both categories.
From a distant 12th, by the third summer of the campaign Coors Light had moved to the 4th leading brand for communication awareness, challenging competitors with far longer and more famous advertising histories.
Many of our sales teams have told us that before the Van Damme campaign, Coors Light required a lot of introduction and explanation when talking to retailers. After its launch, it was so much easier to sell in. Everyone got what the brand was about and who it was for.Ali Pickering, Brand Director Portfolio, Molson Coors