First off, I’m no branding expert but I do know my beers and would be primarily a Heineken drinker when I am drinking beer (mostly stout at the mo). So, with that said, I was flown over to Copenhagen a few weeks ago to find out about Carlsberg’s massive re-positioning of the brand. Journalists and bloggers were being flown in from around the world for the announcement at the sprawling brewery in the city so we knew it would be significant. We arrived the evening before and were driven to a brand new hotel in a custom Carlsberg Mercedes.
After rambling through the city for an hour or two, we re-grouped at the hotel and headed for the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, a sprawling art museum, for dinner. It’s a stunning building that includes a Winter Garden with mosaic floors, tall palms, a fountain a topped by a dome made from copper and wrought iron. The collection is built around the personal collection of Carl Jacobsen (1842–1914), the son of the founder of the Carlsberg Breweries.
After concluding a tour of the collection, we made our way to the main auditorium for a beautiful three course meal served with hand picked Jacobsen craft beers. I’ve never known beers to match food that well before and I’d definitely be open to importing some them as they were superb. After retiring back to the twelfth floor hotel bar for one or two more (and meeting the distance record holder for travel, Patrick from Australia), we hit the sack ahead of the announcement the following morning.
An early start had us out to the brewery for a spot of breakfast and a briefing on what was to come. A short hop on the coaches later we were at the Carlsberg Research Centre where they develop the latest versions of the barley etc. Announcement number one was the new barley called Null-LOX. It allows the beer to stay fresher for much longer and is not a GMO, having been cross bred. It’s taken them 10 years to get Null-OX to this point but this year 200,000 tons of the barley is expected to be harvested. As a bonus, the new barley has led to an improved head on a pint too. 🙂
Announcement number two of the day, which took place in the New Brewhouse, is an international competition to build a Brand & Experience Centre for Carlsberg. They’re looking to build something akin to the Guinness Storehouse and the aim is to attract up to 500,000 visitors a year. The brewhouse and the adjoining elephant gate were built in 1901 with the design for the gate inspired by the Piazza della Minerva in Rome. Details of the competition can be downloaded from the Carlsberg site here.
Finally, and most significantly for the brand, we were briefed by Jorgen Buhl Rasmussen, the group’s CEO on how Carlsberg were re-branding across 140 markets. They feel that whilst the logo and brand are recognised worldwide, the sales don’t match up. The new tag-line, which follows on from “Probably…”, is “That calls for a Carlsberg” and will be used across all of the markets Carlsberg is sold in. From initial feedback I got from my Twitter followers, there’s a lot of love for the “Probably…” tag-line so it’s quite a risk to get rid of it. Along with the switch in tag-line there’s a new visual identity across packaging that is being rolled out swiftly. Rasmussen wants “people to know that Carlsberg beer stands for something – for heritage, for quality, for great taste and for doing the right thing”. At the end of the day, this is about selling beer but from what I saw at the plant and the labs, everyone at Carlsberg has a genuine desire to produce a top product.
The group have targeted a doubling in profits for Carlsberg by 2015. That’s a bold target and one they’re going to have to back up with numbers but it’s clear that they’ve invested a lot to make that happen. Thanks to WHPR for letting me be there to witness the launch.