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I would like to thank Professor Nicholas Alexander for his generous support
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An Exploratory Comparison of Television Advertising by Brand Leaders in Europe,
North America and the United Kingdom withi...
been used in selected markets and develop an understanding of why these commercials
were successful in their respective ma...
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  1. 1. Acknowledgements I would like to thank Professor Nicholas Alexander for his generous support and direction given for this dissertation study. “Education is not filling a bucket but lighting a fire” William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) Irish poet and dramatist I would also like to thank Richard Godfrey for his direction and perspective in the genesis of my dissertation. “Not only is there an art in knowing a thing, but also a certain art in teaching it.” Cicero (106-43 BC); Roman orator and statesman 1
  2. 2. An Exploratory Comparison of Television Advertising by Brand Leaders in Europe, North America and the United Kingdom within the Beer Industry. Abstract New horizons exist for marketers attempting to build global beer brands using a trusted medium for the industry, television commercials. Issues of market segmentation and social mores attached to a cultural bound product such as beer provide new challenges to beer companies that have become accustomed to dominating in their familiar markets and relying on customarily themed messages. Global consolidation is beginning to create a marketing battlefield that is increasingly witness to juggernauts of the beer industry fighting for essential markets that contain different perceptions of how, where and why beer is consumed. Flagship brands have been and will be the dominant tools to win over market share in these new regions but understanding how these brand images will be communicated across different market segments is a challenging task. Decipherment of the messages and themes that connect with the consumers in different markets is the cornerstone of successful advertising campaigns. Three of these markets, North America, Europe and the United Kingdom have been selected for this study. Finding a balance between the similarities and differences within these varied global markets, from the perspective of the television commercials that communicate the brand image and message, may be the difference between success and failure of a global brand. The successful development of dominant brand mind share of the consumer in each regional market will lead to the success of the dominant market share in each regional market. Selecting the most suitable thematic messages to develop this mind share successfully will rely on reflecting what successful beer brands have executed, in the form of television commercials, in the past. This study will address what thematic messages have 2
  3. 3. been used in selected markets and develop an understanding of why these commercials were successful in their respective markets. Introduction With growing consolidation of global brewers what should be the communication strategy in building global brands? What kinds of messages influence beer consumers in the different markets around the world? By analyzing common themes used by dominant brands in key markets answers to these questions will be pursued in this study. Perhaps the single most important strategic decisions an international marketer must make when designing advertising campaigns destined for global markets is whether to standardize advertising worldwide or to customize it for each market or region that they wish to enter. Academics and practitioners alike are divided regarding the advantages and disadvantages of each approach. This debate carries a variety of labels: Standardized campaigns are also referred to as globalized and universal; specialized campaigns are called localized, adapted and even customized. In his seminal work, “The Globalization of Markets.” (1983) Theodore Levitt contends that the world is one large market and that regional, national and even international differences are at most superficial. Thus, the consumer may well be satisfied with similar products and services but perhaps the most controversial part of his premise is that advertisers could sell products globally with standardized messages. Simply put, standardized messages refer to messages that are used internationally with virtually no change in theme, illustration, or copy. Provisions could perhaps be made for translation where needed. A middle ground has also been developed with an integrated approach of these two divergent theories, sometimes called a hybrid approach where some products are seen as more universal while others are managed more specifically to each region. “This 3
  4. 4. integrated approach assumes that treating each country as a totally homogeneous market is not realistic.” (Jain, 1993). Six schools of thought on market segmentation were developed from the late 1980s to the middle of the 1990s (Hassan, et al. 2003). This would imply that there is still much debate and theory being developed as to how best approach the global market. In the end most global marketers today would agree that, “The ultimate agenda is not to have an identically uniform product line worldwide, rather the strategic marketing end is to come up with a product mix that is standardized as possible, while recognizing allowances for some local conditions are sometimes both necessary and desirable” (Keegan and Schlegelmich, 1999) By understanding the above-mentioned approaches to market segmentation or lack of, a greater understanding can be generated on how a global beer brand can be built most effectively. This appears inevitable as brewers become more active with their brands globally. Recently, two of the world’s top ten brewers, Interbrew and AmBev, merged to from InBev, the world’s largest brewer by volume. Shortly afterwards InBev decided they would take Brahma, a dominant brand in South America, into global markets. Advertising agencies were pitched to see who would gain the contract for the ‘world’s first truly global beer brand’ (Tylee, J. 2004) “…Unlike product categories that have standardized features and universal appeal, such as automobiles or computers, beer is very much a culturally bound product. From the way it is brewed to its appearance in a glass to the subtleties of its taste profile, every beer is unique, and local cultures have historically held a preference for their own local brands…”(Goodson, 2004) 4
  5. 5. Earlier work regarding a comparison of television advertising in Britain and the United States concluded that, “consumers of the two countries are currently exposed to fundamentally distinct styles of commercial messages based on cultural values” (Caillat & Mueller, 1996). This was a study of domestic brewers only and therefore doesn’t reflect on the current prevalence of advertising campaigns from breweries originating in different markets (i.e. Stella campaigns in the UK), which would be the genesis of a global beer brand. With the continued growth of globalization, a more current understanding of the television beer advertising in each of the selected markets will generate a better understanding of the prevailing themes in each market. There is little in the way of extensive literature on the subject of television beer advertising in this context. The lion’s share of literature concerning beer and television advertising focuses on the relative influence beer advertising has on minors or those who are of the underage group, usually in the context of health and well being. The Global Beer Market As globalization and consolidation within industries continues to dominate many business headlines, the beer industry has been following the same trend with a growing number of mergers and acquisitions over the last 15 years. It has been a slow start with arguably the first major acquisitions in the global beer market occurring in the 1980s with Interbrew, based in Belgium buying Labatt Breweries in Canada. The 1990s saw many of today’s large brewers grabbing regional and national breweries and brands, such as the South African Breweries shopping spree though Africa followed by the purchase of the prominent Miller brand in the U.S., leading to the corporate renaming, SABMiller. More of this consolidation in the industry would appear likely. “The world beer market is currently highly fragmented. Even Bud Light, the best-selling brand, has barely 3 per cent of the global market” (Tylee, 2004) With these mergers and acquisitions, companies are gaining increased distribution channels, an increased established account base, and markets that perhaps were not even 5
  6. 6. considered accessible until these M & As were deemed possible. With these new channels, accounts and markets comes the challenge of understanding them in regards to brand building. This will be addressed in more detail in progressive sections of this study. Initially a broad and aggregate look will be taken at selected regional beer markets. Further research and investigation will be needed to develop a more specific understanding of more micro markets such as a country-by-country analysis of Europe or state by state in the US. The intention of this study is to generate a general understanding of the differences and similarities in television advertising for leading brands of beer between North America, Europe and the UK. Although some niche beer brands will use television advertising, this study will only be concerned with the so-called flagship brands that the world’s largest breweries focus on to develop market share. By no means is this a comprehensive look at beer adverting in these markets but a study of the nuances of television advertising in each market. The intentions of this study is not to generate a guide to successful advertising in these markets but an understanding of what different or similar approaches and themes are used to capture the mind share of the consumer in these markets. The focus will be on the major brewers in each market and how these brewers approach their television advertising and what thematic messages they employ within their campaigns. By looking at these broader markets, in the context of lead brands, and gaining a general understanding of what messages are more appealing to the beer consumer in these markets a rationale for a global advertising with a homogeneous message can be discounted or accepted. Table 1 Company Millions of Hectolitres InBev (3) 190 m Top Anheuser Busch (1) 152.2m Global SABMiller (2) 132.6m Brewers Heineken NV (4) 101m Molson Coors Brewing Co. (9) 57.6m Carlsberg Breweries A/S (5) 54.3m Scottish & Newcastle (7) 48.2m Grupo Modelo (8) 41.7m Kirin Brewery Co. (9) 34.3m 6
  7. 7. Qingdao Brewery Holdings (-) 32.6m YE: 2003 Source: Impact Databank via Interbrew UK Report 2005 This is a pro forma ranking of brewers based on their sales performance in 2003, which takes account of major merger/takeover activity since then. Figures in brackets represent position in previous year As global brewers look to grow their markets outward, they realize they have an untenable situation, like the rest of the global business world, and competing with other global brewers head on is inevitable. This has increasingly been the scenario in the US, UK and European markets. Brewers are bringing their flagship brands to this beer battle and advertising for image building within the beer consumer’s (and potential consumers) minds has been, and will be, paramount. To develop a tangible response to these messages (i.e. sales) there will have to be a strong understanding of how to communicate to the beer consumer or at least an understanding of what ‘language’ the beer consumer is used to hearing and seeing. The key medium for these brand messages in these markets have been television commercials in the past and, with the exception of web based promotions, there are no indication brand budgets, and their allocations to different mediums, should see divergence from the reliability of television advertising in the future. Table 2 Brand Million Hectolitres Sales Performance Bud Light (2) 44.7m 2.5% Budweiser (1) 43.5m -3.1% Top Skol (3) 31.9m -1% Global Corona (4) 27m 3.2% Beer Heineken (5) 22.1m -3.5% Brands Coors Light (7) 19.5m -1.8% Asahi Super Dry (6) 18.8m -8.1% Miller Lite (8) 18.6m 1% Brahma Chopp (9) 16.3m -1.5% Polar (10) 14.4m 0% YE: 2003 Source: Impact Databank via Interbrew UK Report 2005 Figures in brackets represent position in previous year 7
  8. 8. The beer market is not only fragmented globally but it also nationally and regionally. As beer is a perishable product and typically heavily taxed with many governments providing lower tax brackets for smaller, local brewers, there are many types of categories for the consumer to choose from. Different markets categorize the beer market in different ways but essentially they all can be all be loosely categorized as the following, Discount – Typically these brands have very little, if any, marketing communications in relation to these other categories. Packaging is simplistic and minimal. Low cost is the mantra of this category so retail pricing can be as low as possible in order to access the target market; the budget conscious consumer. Main Stream – the vast majority of the volume sales in the market. This is the segment into which the flagship brands fall under. This is also where the advertising and competition is particularly intense. Local/Micro – a niche market that can develop a devout following and possibly benefit from a lighter tax burden. Consumers include connoisseurs, occasional drinkers and ‘principle’ drinkers (those supporting local brands out of principle to help local business) Import/Premium – this category overlaps somewhat with the Local/Micro category as, many of the aforementioned brands will be premium, in other words, higher priced with costlier and more attractive packaging. Consumers include those with a higher disposable income, the image conscious and beer enthusiasts. It should be noted that beer is a controlled product and heavily taxed in most countries as a luxury good. There are still puritan strains in many markets looking to hinder alcohol advertising due to the ‘social ills’ they bring. Regulation of alcohol advertising is usually strict in every market. For example, in the UK advertising of alcohol is regulated by a self-imposed code of conduct designed by the Advertising Association (Dahl, 2000). However, advertisers still manage quite easily to impress upon the viewer the lifestyle 8
  9. 9. message that has been the industry mantra for decades. Perhaps unwritten rules carry more of an influence as beer advertisers are well aware of the backlash that can come for running a risqué advertisement. Generally brewers realize it serves them best in the long run if they stay under the radar of special interest groups or even supporting them as is the case with drunk driving advertisements sponsored by brewers in Canada, most probably acquiescing to a potential public relations nightmare. Along with growing global competitors, brewers must contend with the still relatively new trend spawning a new category altogether, the Ready To Drink beverages (RTDs) or alcohol-pops such as Smirnoff Ice. This category has steadily shaven away market share from brewers in most major markets. The response from some brewers has been to respond in kind with their own versions of RTDs. Budweiser recently launched a new ‘beer’ called ‘B-to-the-E’ or ‘B (E)’ with Ginseng, guarana and caffeine to compete with this new product category, but brewers rarely succeed when trying to innovate with new products that are not beer. Furthermore, these innovations are usually marketed using less financially intensive media forms such as print and billboard advertising. Television advertising, for the most part, remains the domain of the established flagship brands. Many feel that the growth of the wine market and even spirits market will provide the greatest long-term threat to brewers as competition for the finite alcohol market increases in the years to come. Although industry concentration is perhaps important to brewers it is of less consequence in regards to television advertising as the medium is prohibitively expensive, ensuring only the largest players in the market can afford to access television as a platform to build brand imagery in the competitive beer market. The UK Market The UK is home to two of the world’s largest brewers, Scottish and Newcastle (S & N) and SABMiller, the later moving to London after previously being based in South Africa. 9
  10. 10. The UK has a long history of beer brewing and consumption, but until the last few decades, it was dominated by the ale category, unique to this part of the world. Over the last few decades lager drinking, an influence from continental European brewers, has increased dramatically and shows no sign of slowing down, with ale consumption only accounting for approximately 32% of the market (Interbrew UK Market Report 2005). Consolidation has also been the name of the game over the last few decades with mergers and acquisitions occurring in spits and spurts, leaving S & N as the sole British based brewer by origin within the world’s top ten list of global brewers. The UK population has a long history of going to the ‘pub’, or public house, which means more consumption is done at a licensed premise versus take home, the later being more popular in the North American market. The pub is a very a much part of the culture in the UK, interwoven with everyday life too much of the population and a very important venue when understanding brand building for beer in this market. Alcohol consumption in the UK has received an increasing amount of press from two different, yet related issues recently. The first is from the development over the last 3 or more years of the increasing amount of binge drinking, causing havoc outside pubs and clubs in neighborhoods around the UK. “Britain's drink problem is undeniable. While Americans and continental Europeans consume the same amount or less than they used to, with sobriety notably on the rise in France and Italy, Britons drink a quarter more alcohol than they did ten years ago.” (Economist, Sept 1st 2005) As this new trend was developing the government passed through the 2003 Licensing Act. This legislation, to being by November 2005, will allow local councils the freedom to grant permits to pubs that wish to remain open after the antiquated 11pm standard. This will, some believe, eventually eliminate the binge drinking that appears to be a uniquely UK phenomena. However this plays out, marketers will have to create their 10
  11. 11. brand messages with caution and be sure to avoid any advertising campaign that may evoke any association to binge drinking. The North American (NA) Market North America (NA) is home to two major global brewers, Anheuser Busch and Molson Coors Brewing Co. Both companies have been making forays outside their home continent in search increased revenue while they fight for market share between each other as well as strong regional brands and subsidiaries from other global brewers. NA was selected, that is the US and Canada, as it represents one of the world’s largest markets. Instead of looking simply at the US market, by far the largest of the 3 countries on the continent, Canada was also included as both countries share many cultural similarities. Trends in both beer markets are very similar with the development of the light beer market growing in both, albeit faster in the U.S. Furthermore, both countries consume a very high percentage of take home versus licensee consumption, very large packaged versus draught consumption, and the way the product is advertised, favouring 30 second commercials, particularly during sporting events. In should be noted as well that the US is coming into it’s biggest and arguably most important demographic; teenagers, offspring from the baby boomers. This group is very large, they have a higher disposable income with access to credit cards, and are accustomed to being bombarded with advertising messages, more than any other demographic coming of age. They are perhaps the savviest generation of consumers to date. The European Market Europe is home to Carlsberg, Heineken and InBev (although InBev claims two head offices from the recent merger, the other in South America). These beer titans have been battling for market share against each other for many decades as their dominance within 11
  12. 12. their relatively small home nations, (Denmark, The Netherlands and Belgium respectfully) forced them to seek growth within the rest of Europe and eventually outside the continent. There are many different social mores across the complex cultural diversity in continental Europe. As with North America and the UK, alcohol consumption is deeply ingrained into European culture. Traditionally the northern European countries were considered predominantly beer drinkers while southern Europe was dominated by wine consumption. Lately it appears that both of these regions are influencing each other, creating strong growth of wines and flat beer sales in northern Europe with the opposite trends recently occurring in southern Europe. Furthermore, France has seen strict legislators outlaw alcoholic beverage advertisements on television and restrict lifestyle- themed advertisements in all other media (Goodson, 2004). In has been proposed that the European beer market has reached maturity, (Vrontis, 1998). In other words the market has hit saturation, which will lead to brewers fighting for static or shrinking market share. The European brewer landscape has changed over the last seven years with mergers and acquisitions creating a less fragmented market, not unlike the rest of the globe. The most notable recent acquisition was the purchase of the large German brewer Beck’s by Interbrew, with European Union approval, in 2001. Vrontis states, “The European beer market is complex with many diverse external elements influencing it. These could be factors such as competitors, suppliers, government regulations, associations and legislation.” These elements should be softened as mergers and acquisitions create less competition with suppliers and consumers making Europe an easier continent for brand building. In analyzing the European market, Vrontis looks at the industry across the continent and breaks it down by country. This segmentation is less relevant today, as the EU has allowed trade between nations to pass more freely. Vrontis goes on to address the problem of beer monopolies within countries however approach has been deemed as irrelevant in that there are no pure monopolies in any country, although Vrontis claims 12
  13. 13. there are 5 monopolies (Denmark, Italy, France, Belgium and Holland). Perhaps it’s more important to consider the major players that exist in every market. This can be seen by the major brewers list (see table 1). Furthermore, according to the World Legal Information Institute (WLII) on a report done for the Commission of the European Communities in 2003, Heineken, the dominant producer in the country, only accounted for 50-60% of the beer volume in the Netherlands, not the 70% as stated by Vrontis. Regardless of these numbers, no brewery has exclusive control over any national market in Europe, which, by definition, is a monopolistic market. A notable difference between these markets is how the beer is consumed. In the US, take home purchases and packaged product (an industry term for bottles or cans) drive the vast majority of sales (by volume), averaging between 80-90% across Canada and the US. In the UK and Europe volume sales are tend to be higher for on-trade business, as can be noted in the chart below. Also worth noting, while the UK and Europe tend to have a much higher percentage of consumption on-trade versus take home, the serving sizes are very different. The popular serving size in the UK is the pint, a whopping 20 ounces whereas the Europeans more commonly consume smaller measures such as 10 ounce glasses when at licensed premises. Europeans will also tend to consume beer more with meals whereas the UK market experiences more consumption, without food, after dinner until the pubs close at 11pm. Table 3 Percentage On-Trade UK 65% Share of Beer France 31% Business (by volume) Belgium 55% Holland 35% Source: AC Neilson/GB/On-trade/YE January 2005 In regards to world markets, the NA, UK and Europe have common bonds but there are clearly differences between these markets in the context of beer consumption. 13
  14. 14. Television Advertising of Beer in UK, North America and Europe “I know I’m wasting half my ad dollars, I just don’t know which half” Anonymous Although few marketers would admit it themselves, a great deal of advertising can be lost in the media mix. Knowing what works and what is thought to work is a whole other matter however. Complicated algorithms support trends such as advertising for sporting events in NA builds brand awareness but does this miss out on other possible hidden markets? It is not the purpose of this study to answer this question but it is important to understand the myriad of choices a marketer must deal with in an attempt to maximize advertising spend. Advertising effectively is not an easy task. Many variables need to be considered before the message is sent to market. Social mores can have subtle characteristics from region to region or country to country. Language and symbols provide different meanings to different people. Products that are culturally bound such as beer exacerbate this issue. There are very few messages a beer company can say about their brand. Other industries can talk about a long list of features or innovations or even ingenuity but when it comes to beer the message is lifestyle. Selling a lifestyle is about selling a state of mind and that is what the marketing campaigns for beer, using television advertisements, attempt to do. Beer advertisers want the consumer to identify with the actors in the ad, even though the actors might be obsessed with their particular brand of beer, any amount if identification is a step towards keeping their brand top of mind. If the brand is top of mind then consumers will simply purchase the brand versus the competitor’s brand. At the very least, “When a consumer sees a brand advertised on a popular show, she not only learns about the brand, she learns that many other people know about it also.”(Chwe, 1998) Television beer advertisement has long sold the lifestyle instead of the product. It is rare to hear any description of the actual product, although the word ‘refreshing’ is almost 14
  15. 15. always used. Advertisers in most industries realize that selling a lifestyle can convey much more than simple product features. Although beer is a fairly simple product to brew it can have a wide variety of points of difference: colour, alcohol percentage, hops, grains, water, taste, odour, and degree of effervescence to name a few. It is rare to hear any of these mentioned in a television commercial. In actuality, flagship brand beers have very little difference, in regards to product features, with the majority of their lesser know competitors. This is why the dominant brewers are reluctant to market their product on product features. It is very difficult to keep a point of difference that other brewers can easily imitate. Lifestyle is a more manageable feature to market and associations with exclusive events such as the World Cup provides image-building opportunities for the brand that are difficult to copy. It is therefore easier for marketers to protect their brand image if they tell you what the beer brand means and stands for, not what is actually inside the bottle. Other industries can use icons or figures to sell say, tires, but due to the sensitive nature of selling alcohol cartoon characters and the like are taboo for this type of mass media message. Budweiser stepped close the line with frogs selling their beer, including cartoon frogs on their internet site. Special interest groups pay close attention to alcohol advertising and are quick to point out any deviance from acceptability, whatever that might mean at the time, to regulating bodies such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Although advertising bans on beer can seem pointless, “The results indicate that advertising bans in OECD countries have not decreased alcohol consumption or alcohol abuse.” (Nelson, et al., 2001), they provide the biggest threat to the brands that rely on image building in the mind of the consumer. “A major brewery will allocate approximately 23-30% of a flagship brand’s total budget towards the advertising creative and airtime for television advertising.” (In the context of an interview, Bill Wade, General Manager, The Premium Beer Company, Canada). This high percentage would imply a heavy reliance on the success of these advertising 15
  16. 16. programs and campaigns to ensure the success of the brand as well as the belief that television advertising, versus other options such as print advertising, will pay the dividends needed to build or sustain a brand. There are, of course, other media options to beer marketers building a global brand. Web advertising holds possibilities but this medium is still considered a wild unknown with many more variables to cope with in comparison to television as a medium. With a greater understanding of the 20-30 years of modern television beer advertising, what is known and what is not know, it is more likely that television will be the dominant medium of choice, in regards to budget allocation, for reaching the global market. There is little chance for coincidence that the number one brand in the world, by volume, is Bud Light (Interbrew UK Market Report 2005), a brand extension launched years ago from the venerable Budweiser brand. Bud Light is currently considered to have one of the most popular advertising campaigns, by virtue of a strong use of comedic timing and identifying with the consumer in the market. As a consumer product, beer relies heavily on creating the ‘right’ image in the consumers mind to ensure loyalty and repeat business. Very little is focused on the actual product inside the bottle itself. However the right image can resonate differently among varied market segments, “With respect to advertising the influence of cultural differences is very pervasive since, as a form of social communication, advertising is considered to be particularly reflective of culture” (Hong, et al., 1987). Another study delving into advertising themes (Pelsmacker and Geuens, 1998) and the reactions found from showing advertisements to a group of Belgian and Polish undergrad and graduate students. These were broken down into 4 categories; warmth, eroticism, humour and non-emotional. Pelsmacker and Geuens show just how difficult it is to reach across different regions and cultures within Europe. Even within the US and UK it can be assumed that advertising campaigns for beer would elicit different reactions in, lets say, Scotland compared to Southern England or California compared to Tennessee. 16
  17. 17. Furthermore, if Pelsmacker and Geuens wanted to break down the Polish and Belgian markets further there is little doubt they would have found differences between the reactions they found from the eastern regions of Poland as compared to their western counterparts. However, firms and their advertising houses must, for the sake of efficiency, look to create some sort of common ground in these markets. For the global brewer, there will be the desire to search for a common ground globally. The market can anticipate Brahma, to take the first leap into this foray as InBev looks to take their brand onto the global stage, shopping for advertising houses in 2005 to help it become, ‘the first truly global beer brand’. “The world beer market is still made up of lots of local brands," an insider said. "Now InBev wants to flex its international muscle and see if it is possible to have a beer that can be promoted the same way around the world. The US is a huge market, but so are Europe and the Far East."” (Tylee, 2004) There is little doubt that other global brewers are like-minded and will be, if not already, be thinking globally in respect to their brands. In other words, brewers have been or will be deciding how best to develop a global brand to lead their portfolio. Of course it could be argued that global brands already exist. Heineken for instance is familiar with most markets around the world. Heineken’s website claims the brand is available in over 170 countries and is Europe’s largest brewery. “Within the global beer market consolidation is accelerating and the beer industry is moving towards an end-game situation.” (, 2005) Television beer advertisements have always attempted, for the most part, to entertain the consumer. It could be argued that beer commercials have a legitimate part of our psyche as the consumer, mainly men, connects with them psychologically, so much so there are even DVDs for sale covering decades worth of beer commercials (, 2005). Many beer consumers look forward to good beer advertisements to compliment television viewing, particularly during sporting events in NA. The question arises however, ‘what makes a good beer advertisement or what does it take to engage the consumer to a 17
  18. 18. satisfactory end?” There are two very different issues here. To the advertiser or marketer a good beer advertisement is one that prompts the viewer to purchase that particular brand. What makes a good beer advertisement to the consumer will most likely be something that entertains them. Gustafson and Yssel (1998) created 14 different categories when they selected their list for the world’s 100 best commercials: Demonstrations, Dialogue, Blockbusters, Love and Romance, Animals, Humour, Music, Imagery (including art and fantasy), Simply brilliant, Children, Characters and celebrities, Parody, Humanity. These categories or themes are meant to cover the entire range of possible themes for a television commercial. Due to the limitations for television beer commercials, that is the legal restrictions and the limited demographic (i.e. no minors or even seniors targeted), some of these themes such as ‘Children’ would not be appropriate. Since beer commercials are obviously limited to what themes they can use (i.e. little opportunity to use Demonstration and Characters), this study would look to develop considerably less than 14 themes. Yssel and Gustafson, also created an exclusive categorization, in other words, each commercial could only fall under one theme, allowing no overlapping. This posses a problem in a situation where, say perhaps a washing detergent is demonstrating it’s benefits when dealing with stains generated by small children and pets, with shots of small children playing with dogs. This hypothetical commercial can fall under three separate categories that Yssel and Gustafson have created: Children, Demonstration and Animals. Deciding on one dominant theme eliminates the relevance of any other themes present within the commercial. This, it is believed, is a weakness in Yssel and Gustafson’s study, preventing a comprehensive understanding of the nuances that made these ‘100 best commercials’ successful. This study will be documenting any occurrence of the selected themes, allowing for numerous themes to be present when warranted. 18
  19. 19. Methodology The primary objective of this study is to discover how major beer brands are advertised, in regards to television, in the three selected markets and to generate a general understanding of the differences and similarities regarding which themes are used to communicate brand lifestyle and image. The advertisements selected for this study have been affixed to the back of hard copies of this paper in the form of a compact disc, available for viewing in various media player formats. Information on television advertising and the beer industry was gathered from various journals and industry leaders (i.e. InBev, Heineken, Carlsberg). The commercials analyzed were gathered from various websites. Due to the popularity of television beer commercials, hundreds of commercials are easily found on the internet from different sites that celebrate this unique genre Commercials from each market were then selected based on whether or not they represented a dominant brand in their respected market, and whether it was part of a recent advertising campaign. An exception was made for the ‘ Wassup’ advertising campaign created by Budweiser nearly 8 years ago. This advertisement was included due to its incredible success, adding ‘Wassup’ to the American vernacular. Only the strongest brands in each market were considered as they would best represent the concentration of television advertising the viewer would be subject to viewing at any given time. Limiting the research to dominant brands meant that, assuming there are 3-4 dominant brands in each market, duplication of brand selection could not be avoided however when duplication did occur it was with the most dominant brand in that market (i.e. Two commercials for Bud Light in the NA market as it is the lead brand in that market by volume). For Europe, 5 commercials were selected with 6 selected for both NA and the UK. Although this is a fairly small sample size it is hoped that it will be enough to establish an exploratory overview of the advertising appeals used. 19
  20. 20. Once the commercials were selected they were qualitatively content analyzed, a process similar to the one used by Dahl (2000). This was part of a much broader discourse analysis, that is the critical discourse of the language of television commercials and how this language is used in the context of different cultural markets. However, due to restrictions with time and the research agenda, this was not fully explored. Focus groups were considered but considering the nature of the study, the comparison of markets on different continents, that methodology was deemed unfeasible as the participants would be selected from a small geographic area, not in line with the nature of the study. In order for focus groups to work effectively for this study, they would have to be carried out in their respective markets. Furthermore, focus groups would not have provided any detailed information about the advertisements, only perceptions. The commercials studied in this research were viewed approximately twenty times each, with notes taken to create the synopsis or ‘story line’ that has been included in each deconstruction. After the story line, ‘Key Points/Messages’ were noted, essentially as a summary of what are believed to be key concepts that the advertiser was hoping the viewer would glean from one or many viewings of that particular commercial. Finally, ‘further analysis’ was undertaken to aid the discovery of similarities and/or differences from commercial to commercial and region to region. The further analysis is made up of six separate steps. Set-up – The initial shot. What is meant to be processed by the viewer in the first few seconds. Delivery – This consists of the longest part of the advertisement, with anticipation of the execution or end message. Execution – The end message is reserved for the final 2-5 seconds, usually followed by the product shot and tag line. 20
  21. 21. Mise-en-scene – as this is usually a very short time to send the message, the setting is almost always static but can be a key element is setting the tone or feeling of the advertisement. Music/Dialogue – any dominant music or sounds that impact the message(s). Themes - Humour, sex, sport, camaraderie and heritage were the dominant reoccurring themes and therefore were the themes selected for this study. Others themes were initially considered such as music, and patriotism but these were excluded due to their minimal presence. Although music was present in many advertisements, it was not considered a theme unless it appeared to be an integral part of the message. In other words, the characters needed to be dancing to, moving to, or acknowledging the music as was the case in the Heineken ‘Flexible Dancing’ advertisement. The selection of themes present is a subjective matter, open for interpretation. Once each theme was established Professor Nicholas Alexander (University of Wales, Aberystwyth) was consulted in order to gain additional perspective, either concurring or questioning findings through discourse. There was no template found in the literature review for the commercial deconstruction, however the aforementioned three steps were, after much analysis, considered a thorough approach to glean the necessary and appropriate elements of the commercial messages. Other elements of the television advertisements were considered, such as the location of consumption (i.e. home or in a bar), vessel for consumption (i.e. bottle or glass), and time of consumption (day or night). These elements are all relative to the beer drinking culture, if you will, of each market. An advertisement for beer in Belgium, for example, would more likely show a draught glass full of beer versus a bottle as the majority of beer sales occur from draught in on-trade (Belgium On-trade share 55% Interbrew UK Report 2005), whereas the vast majority of sales in Canada occur in bottles and most of this is 21
  22. 22. take home so advertisements in Canada would be focused on bottled, also known as packaged, beer. Once again, the length of this study could not allow these elements to be studied at this time. Consideration was given to other measurable content such as dialogue (i.e. how many words were spoken or sentences exchanged), age of actors, number of product shots and male versus female ratio. Again, the issue of a time constraint meant that the criteria for the commercial deconstruction had to keep to a manageable number of elements. Those themes selected were seen as the most relative to the genre and would hopefully provide the most information from which conclusions could be developed. Certain criteria had to be met to warrant the existence of a theme within the television commercials studied. Sex was considered a theme if there appeared to have any provocative affect on the main character(s)’ actions and/or provided any imagery intended to be titillating. Dahl used the term ‘sex appeal’ and stated, “A commercial was judged to use ‘sex appeal’, if it depicted members of the opposite sex making advances towards the main character, if they spoke seductively or were dressed in a manner that may be interpreted as erotic.” This was considered too stringent criteria for sex as a theme for this study. Either overt or subdued sex can be portrayed in many different ways and therefore this study looked at sex in a broader sense. Humour was considered present, as a theme, if the commercial was clearly designed to illicit laughter or the design of the advertisement was to deliver a punch line or joke. The standard format for this type of humour is to deliver information for the vast majority of the message with the very last section saved for a surprise or interesting twist, that would create laughter. Camaraderie as a theme is much simpler to measure. If there were friends present camaraderie was acknowledged, assuming there was some sort of bonding between them in the commercial. In other words, camaraderie existed if there were two or more people that appeared to be familiar with one another prior to the opening of the commercial and 22
  23. 23. continued their familiarity within the advertisement. Camaraderie as a theme appears to have developed rules over the years. Research found this interesting rule of thumb, “You always have people drinking in numbers: never have a guy on his own. That's seen to be a loner and that's against the rules for a beer ad. Also, you never had two men drinking together because they could be gay. So it was always three: never one, never two.” (John Webster, Advertising Creator, Hoffmeister Beer, 'Follow the Bear', 1983, 100 Greatest Advertisements, Channel 4, Broadcast 2003.) Heritage was considered a theme if the advertisement makes any implication to the amount of time the brand name has been in the market. This could be simply indicating the year the brewery was established or nostalgia with the brand. The use of sport as a theme was fairly straightforward and followed Dahl’s criteria, “Sport includes all commercials that make a clear reference to sports of all forms, show main characters involved in sporting activities or after sports” The markets of the US, the UK and Europe were selected as these were not only the places of which the world’s largest brands dominated and therefore would be the most likely locations for launching advertising campaigns for global brands but these markets experienced some of the heaviest advertising spends worldwide. These three markets combined host seven of the world’s top ten brewers. These markets were also more likely to have cultural similarities due to the historical ties that these three regions have shared over the last few centuries. Comparing markets that were more apt to have a common ground would allow for a greater appreciation in the differences and/or similarities between how major beers brands were marketed in these regions, in the context of television advertising themes. Other markets were considered, such as South America, home to the Brahma brand that spends a great deal of it’s budget on television advertising but, for the reasons mentioned earlier, the final three markets were analyzed. 23
  24. 24. Findings Seventeen commercials were deconstructed, five from Europe, six from NA and six from the UK. Each market and the respective commercials will be deconstructed in these findings. European Television Advertisements Raw Eggs – Beck’s – 30 seconds Story Line A pan across a kitchen counter asking the question in a husky German male voice ‘What makes a good breakfast experience?’ As we move across the ingredients on the counter the first option comes in subtitles across the bottom of the screen and verbally, ‘A’ - Something tasty? ‘B’- Something healthy? ‘C’ - Or someone you can share it with? As we are given option ‘A’ we see a female hand with an egg in it. When option ‘B’ comes along we see that there is another woman beside the first one. When option ‘C’ comes we see the 1st woman grab the 2nd woman by the face, somewhat forcefully yet with care, and drop the raw egg yolk that is in her mouth into the other woman’s mouth and then they exchange it again. 24
  25. 25. The commercial then ends with the music picking up-tempo, a shot of a cityscape at night, a bottle of Beck’s in the shot, approaching closer with the tag line, ‘Life Beckons and you’re holding the key’. Key Points/Messages This commercial is clearly attempting to be different from other beer commercials. It is hard to say exactly what the message is and that could be the message itself, in the vein of making the viewer think about what he/she just saw and keep the thinking as long as possible. Or perhaps to create discourse, causing people to ask friends if they saw ‘that Beck’s commercial?’ There is clearly a sexual theme here. Simply the innuendo of sharing a breakfast with someone, while the last shot implies it is nighttime, would hint at casual sex. The fact it is two women implies more of a taboo subject matter, most likely to evoke shock from the viewer rather than a concerted effort by Beck’s to go after the lesbian market. The tag line at the end would suggest that life should be more adventurous. Certainly the ad, in black and white with modern music, is meant to be highly stylish. 1. Set-up – A kitchen and ingredients 2. Delivery – The question asking ‘what makes a good breakfast’ with an option of ‘a’, ‘b’, or ‘c’ with a woman in the background 3. Execution – Two women sharing a raw egg in an overtly sexual way 4. Mise-en-scene – Black and white kitchen but modern looking setting 5. Music/Sounds – Modern eclectic music in background 6. Themes – Sex and possibly camaraderie 25
  26. 26. Amstel - Man or Woman? – 30 seconds Story Line We look down a long ‘brown’ bar; typical of the type you would see in the Netherlands. Three guys are looking down the bar. The guy in the middle goes down towards where they are looking and approaches what appears to be a beautiful, well-dressed blond woman. The guy who approached says ‘hi’, the blond turns around and we see that she has a hint of masculine facial features. He gives her a big smile and then proceeds to ask her a seemingly simple question about football, using beer glasses with the Amstel logo (surrounded by Amstel coasters) and her glass of white wine. When she answers the question correctly he smiles, says thank you and heads back to his friends. They look at him, as if to see what the answer was but then the guy in the middle says, ‘It’s a man’. They all begin laughing reservedly, and the viewer is given the impression that they had been discussing this for a while and finally got their answer. It ends with a simple shot of the Amstel logo in the middle with ‘Friends Forever’ below the logo. Key Points/Messages This is clearly a male bonding advertisement. Instead of our protagonist asking the ‘attractive’ blond out or for a phone number he ends up getting a laugh at her expense. This is a familiar setting to most men but it usually plays out differently with the guy talking to the girl all night, leaving friends behind in the pursuit of the female. Another, less overt message appears as we see the ‘girl’ drinking white wine while the guys drink beer. These days it is becoming increasingly acceptable for men to drink a glass of wine in a bar or pub and the brewers fear this trend as it eats away at their once untouchable demographic. This is perhaps a small attempt to clearly define to the viewer that men drink beer and ‘woman’ drink wine. 26
  27. 27. Note: Quotations were used around the words attractive, girl and woman, as it is still unclear by the end of the ad if the blond is a man or woman. Further Analysis 1. Set-up – Three men drinking at the bar 2. Delivery – One male asks a girl they were looking at a very basic question about football 3. Execution – When the guy returns he says to his friends ‘It’s a man’ 4. Mise-en-scene – A typical ‘brown’ bar in Holland 5. Music/Sounds – Background noises of a bar 6. Themes – Humour, sex, sports and camaraderie Heineken – Three Generations – 40 seconds Story Line The advertisement starts off in black and white with a grainy 1930s feel and a dozen or so men queuing. One guy is focused on, he has an envelope and opens the contents onto his free hand and coins come out as he smiles with appreciation. We are to assume it is his payday. He travels through the city, hitching a ride on back of a truck, which perhaps would have been the ‘cool’ mode of transport back then. As he gets off the truck he nearly knocks a woman over and continues on his way. He meets his more modern dressed friend in front of a car dealer selling more modern cars and we sense time has passed, as the new friend is in colour but the original guy is still in black and white. They exchange pleasantries and walk down the street together but not before the new guy checks his hair in a window reflection. They meet up with yet another friend, dressed in the 1980s style and talking on a very large mobile phone, reminiscent of that era. They again exchange pleasantries and continue down on their way together. They walk into a 27
  28. 28. bar and meet the fourth friend. The bar and fourth friend are meant to represent today with all the trappings you would expect in a modern bar setting. Again they exchange pleasantries and begin ordering beer. When 4 bottles of beer are put on the bar the first guy from the 1930s puts a coin on the bar, as if to pay for all 4 bottles, but after the female bartender and other guys raise their eyebrows the most modern guy gives his credit card to the bartender, they toast their beer bottles and we see the product shot and tag line, ‘It’s always been about the beer’. Key Points/Messages The theme here is clearly heritage and the time honoured appreciation of payday and meeting your friends for a beer to celebrate the day. Heineken is making an attempt to emphasize the heritage of their brand as a beer that represents fun with friends for many generations. Inflation is used as humour in the commercial as the 1930s guy wants to buy a round of beers with a coin. Inflation is a very real aspect of life we all deal with begrudgingly and Heineken has found a way for viewers to see humour in this economic inevitability. Further Analysis 1. Set-up – We follow the main character with money in his pocket on payday 2. Delivery – He begins to meet his other friends, progressing through different eras 3. Execution – When the first guy from the 1930s, who just had payday, tries to buy beers for his friends from different eras in a 21st century bar he puts a coin on the bar 4. Mise-en-scene – A modern city, going through different generations 5. Music/Sounds – Music from different eras, matching the visual imagery of the era 6. Themes – Humour, camaraderie and heritage 28
  29. 29. Heineken – Flexible Dancing – 60 seconds Story Line The main character is seen walking along an urban street looking a little forlorn. He sees a sign; ‘Greenspace’ and what appears to be a door to a bar. He enters the bar and the soft beat of music in the background picks up. He looks around smiles at some strangers, gets a bottle of Heineken and we see he is dancing oddly, with just his legs moving as he leans against the bar with the guy next to him dancing in the same peculiar way. He moves around the bar, comes across another guy with a Heineken, again dancing very oddly but with incredible flexibility. They exchange non-verbal pleasantries and begin dancing together but from a safe distance as not to imply anything overtly homosexual. Elsewhere in the bar an older looking guy with glasses walks up to a good looking woman, cheers her bottle of Heineken with his glass of Heineken and her dance moves appear to have ‘infected’ him and now he is dancing with incredible flexibility. We get back to the first guy and he meets a girl, she squeezes her nose, holds her breath and as if by magic, the guy’s ears humorously pop and get bigger. The main character leaves the club with the girl and a friend and we see two old women outside the club greeting and gesturing each other using a very underground urban hand signalling, what you might see in East Los Angles. The main characters continue to a kebab shop where there is more infectious flexible dancing and ear ‘popping’. The ad eventually ends with the main character getting in a cab and driving off to the horizon but not before the dancing and ear ‘popping’ has seemingly infected everyone the viewer sees in the commercial. The ad finishes with a product shot and the tag line ‘Heineken. Meet you there’ while a new character is added, doing the crazy dance across the screen with a large bouquet of roses. 29
  30. 30. Key Points/Messages Life is better with a little Heineken in it. It adds to the moment through music, dancing and all round hipness. Communal dancing to the same song can be paralleled to the to the legendary Coca-cola advertising campaign, “I’d like to teach the world to sing” with the multi-cultural elements and the harmonious unison. There is certainly an underlying multicultural urban theme here that is shown through the streets, kebab shop, and the taxi. Special effects are used implying a modern approach to the message that Heineken is sharing. Further Analysis 1. Set-up – A guy walking along the street alone 2. Delivery – He walks into a bar, orders a Heineken and joins in an infectious dance with various people in the bar 3. Execution – There really isn’t any, other than the infectious dancing and ear popping continuing out into the street 4. Mise-en-scene – Urban Europe in various settings 5. Music/Sounds – Music is rhythmic and with a strong beat, reinforcing the dancing theme, almost toe-tapping 6. Themes – Camaraderie and humour Tuborg – Beer Goggles – 60 seconds Story Line We see a guy sitting by himself in a bar or restaurant drinking a large bottle of Tuborg, but pouring it into a glass first before he drinks it. He notices a girl, by herself, across from him at another table drinking coffee. She appears dowdy. When he brings the first 30
  31. 31. sip of beer to his face, as the glass is pulled away (the shot is from the eyes of the guy and the rim of the glass is large so the girl is shielded from view for a moment while he drinks his beer) she has changed into a somewhat sultry and attractive girl. She looks at him and plays with her hair. He takes another sip and as he pulls the glass away from his face again he sees she has become more attractive. As he keeps taking sips of beer she becomes more and more attractive and more and more flirtatious with him to the point of becoming overtly sexual. He is clearly falling in love as he is draped over his table at one point and he has the most contented smile on his face. To check to see if he is dreaming he rubs his eyes vigorously, as if to erase any possibility that this was a fantasy and sure enough, as he refocuses on his dream girl she has returned into the dowdy looking librarian type with pulled back hair and glasses he saw before he began drinking his Tuborg. He looks at his glass and notices it is empty and then goes to pour the bottle into his glass but that too is empty. He becomes panicky and desperately tries to signal his server for another bottle, desperately hoping that another bottle of Tuborg will help him see his dream girl again. It finishes with him smiling, the bottle on the table (logo facing forwards for logo placement) and the tag line superimposed below, ‘One more Tuborg…please!’ Key Points/ Messages Life is better with one more Tuborg. This is in regards to humour and making women more attractive but mostly humour as any person who has over imbibed has noticed the opposite sex becomes more attractive or at least our judgements are blurred along with vision. This plays on our nostalgia of those moments when beer neophytes gullibly thought members of the opposite sex were more attractive as we drank and mistakes, possibly, were made. This is a fairly simple ad but not without merit. It doesn’t portray lifestyle as almost all other ads up until this point do. It relies on us identifying with the beer drinker and his comical expressions. 31
  32. 32. Further Analysis 1. Set-up – We witness a lonely guy in a bar with a bottle of Tuborg and he notices a not so attractive girl across from him at another small table 2. Delivery – He notices that the girl becomes remarkably more beautiful and flirtatious with every passing sip of Tuborg 3. Execution – As soon as he runs out of Tuborg the girl becomes unattractive again and he desperately tries to order another Tuborg 4. Mise-en-scene – A bistro in any city in Europe 5. Music/Sounds – Dramatic violin chords 6. Themes – Humour and sex United Kingdom Television Advertisements Carlsberg – Ultimate Holiday – 40 seconds Story Three guys, looking mildly shocked, get dropped off on a runway with a Carlsberg branded jet plane waiting for them and a stewardess greeting them with a tray of 3 large glasses of beer. Celebratory music begins. The three men are sitting on large reclining chairs one the plane. One of them can’t reach his beer, the pilot notices this from a camera in the cockpit and steers the plane so the glass will slide within reach of his hand. The next shot shows that they are clearly traveling in luxury as we get a better view of their luxury seats, they have the whole plane to themselves with 2 stewardesses at their beck and call, not to mention the big screen TV in the background. They arrive at a hotel in a tropical location and check into their exotic luxury room. One guy goes to join his friends on the balcony while grabbing a glass of Carlsberg. Everything seems perfect as all 3 guys have grins on their faces almost implying that life 32
  33. 33. couldn’t possibly get any better. Suddenly they hear loud, offensive, construction noise and realize that their beautiful balcony that overlooks a pristine tropical paradise is right next to a massive construction site. Just as there faces turn sour they realize that all the workers are incredibly beautiful girls in semi-revealing construction type clothes. A voice over comes at this point saying ‘Carlsberg don’t do holidays but if they did they would probably be the best holidays in the world’. During the voice over the girls and guys make sexual glances at one another. Just when the guys thought their holiday couldn’t get any better it did. The commercial finishes with a shot of the beach, three empty lounge chairs with a construction helmet beside one (implying that the guys are too busy with the newly found female construction workers that they have no time for the beach.), a beach ball bouncing across the screen in the background, 3 cans of Carlsberg on ice in a bucket are in the front slightly to the left and the tag line ‘Possibly the best lager in the world’. Key Points/Messages Carlsberg is beer that makes great occasions even better. In fact, Carlsberg makes everything better. Draught glasses used – implying and/or supporting licensee trade business. First beers shown boarding the plane were 16-20 glasses (probably 20) and the second ones on plane (appear 12 ounce), the third ones on balcony (12) and cans on the beach (12-16). There is no dialogue in this commercial. Further Analysis 1. Set-up – Three average guys appear to be receiving the VIP treatment for an exotic holiday 2. Delivery – From plane to room with incredible view, everything appears to be absolutely perfect for them 3. Execution – Just when things couldn’t possibly get any better the situation briefly appears spoilt when the construction site is heard and seen but the impossible happens 33
  34. 34. and they realize it is staffed with absolutely beautiful women that appear very happy to see these three guys. The first shot we get of this is a women bending over showing part of her derriere, not unlike the stereotypical male labourer 4. Mise-en-scene – Nothing but pure luxury and perfect hospitality in every shot, with a tropical theme once the plane has landed 5. Music/Sounds – Song by Sophie Ellis-Bextor called ‘Groove jet (If this ain’t love). Sounds include the jet taking off and the construction site 6. Themes – Humour, camaraderie, and sex Carling – Cracking – 40 seconds Story Line Opens with a guy waking up on the beach of a tropical island with a crab waving at him. It looks as though this guy is stranded on this island from some sort of plane crash and he has debris from the accident strewn all around him. The crab takes him along, amid the wreckage to a silver box that our protagonist opens and discovers is a fridge full of Carling but the fridge is clearly not working. The guy then sets out on building a power generator for the fridge. The crab is even dragging his own little sled of items along side the man, almost child-like or dog-like. To generate the power the crab moves along a makeshift conveyor belt and with coaching and support from the guy the fridge is turned on and miraculously the beer is instantly cold. The next shot is of the guy relaxing in a lounge chair, completely content with his cold beer and the sun setting. Then the guy lifts up a crab leg and, as the pleasant music stops, he cracks open the crab leg and begins eating it. The screen shot finishes with the word ‘Cracking’, in the same font and style of the Carling logo, on a glass of draught that is zoomed in for the product shot. 34
  35. 35. Key points/Messages Carling comes before anything else, including camaraderie with a crab. First shot of a cooler full of three rows of large cans. The protagonist grabs one and caresses it. Second shot has the fridge on and he caresses the can again, finishing with an empty can by a glass and the product shot is in a glass. The commercial appears to end with a surprise finish that attempts to keep the viewer thinking about what just happened, not unlike an entertaining movie that keeps the viewer pondering as he leaves the theatre. Further Analysis 1. Set-up- Guy stranded on an apparently deserted island 2. Delivery- The build up of a friendship with the crab 3. Execution - Cracking the crab’s leg for food 4. Mise-en-scene- Exotic and desolate uninhabited island 5. Music/Sounds- Haunting music at the beginning with strange and exotic jungle sounds in the background. Once the cans of Carling is discovered the song “Just the two of us” begins 6. Themes - Humour and camaraderie in the form of a crab Carlsberg – Flatmates – 50 seconds Story Line The opening shot begins with a guy on a dark, lonely street with the only other sign of life is the barking from a dog in the distance. He has a newspaper and when we see he is reading the classifieds we notice that he has crossed many choices out, implying he has been searching for quite a long time. He then rings a doorbell in the shape of the Carlsberg ‘C’ logo and a green light within. 35
  36. 36. After he rings the bell a beautiful girl quickly answers the door. He says in a surprised stutter and slight Irish accent, “Hi, I’m here about the room” He notices that the place is huge and very opulently decorated. He is greeted by another guy of Irish decent, saying ‘hi’ and offers to show him around. Our protagonist is first introduced by the other guy to Cathy, also beautiful and ‘is a trainee chef who is making pizza and won’t let anyone else cook’. A large flat screen television comes down from the ceiling and is being watched by the girl who answered the door. She speaks to the TV in disappointment, with an exotic accent, ‘Ah, chick flick’. She then changes the channel and screams with excitement at what is on the next channel, ‘Ah! Football Legends!’ The two guys continue the tour and find a panel on the wall that shows automated buttons for taking care of cleaning tasks and other items such as a Jacuzzi. The cleaning button is pressed and we see that popcorn, on the floor, is vacuumed up automatically by some unseen device. The two men then enter the bedroom and the host says ‘I’m afraid you’re stuck with the box room’. The room is shaped like a box, with very stylish furniture; we then see that it has a balcony overlooking a massive football stadium and a match is in progress. We then see a shot of a tray of beer, 2 bottles and a glass. A voiceover begins, ‘Carlsberg don’t do flatmates but if we did they would probably be the best flatmates in the world’. The advertisement purposely uses poor grammar presumably to identify with the target demographic. We then see all four ‘flatmates’, on the balcony, smiling and enjoying the game with a Carlsberg. The final shot is of the first girl reading a bedtime story about how England beat Germany at football to our protagonist in bed as he falls asleep with a smile on his face, as if he were in heaven. Key Points/Messages If Carlsberg did anything else other than beer, it would be fantastical. This is certainly meant to imply, as the tag line suggests, that Carlsberg beer is ‘probably the best beer in the world’. If average guys, like our protagonist in this advertisement, could have it their way, everything would be better if Carlsberg made it. 36
  37. 37. Further Analysis 1. Set-up – A guy looking desperately for an apartment, something many individuals can empathise with 2. Delivery – The tour of the perfect apartment and flatmates 3. Execution – The bedroom looks over a massive football stadium and he is read pleasant football stories while he falls asleep in bed by one of the beautiful female flatmates 4. Mise-en-scene – Quality flat with all of the best mod cons in spades 5. Music/Sounds – Dog barking in strange neighbourhood but when the apartment is entered a casual, modern sounding beat plays in the background 6. Themes – Sex, sport, humour and camaraderie John Smith’s – High Diving – 40 seconds Story Line The shot starts with a very athletic young Australian male in a diving competition. With sports commentators making statements about his dive and replays, the commercial appears to be the broadcast of a diving competition. The next diver, also very athletic, is a Canadian and we also see him dive with commentary and a replay. Both have scored high points on their dives. There is also commentary over the loud speaker in the pool area, exactly as you would hear in swimming or diving competition. The next competitor is John Smith from Great Britain. John Smith is young but he is out of shape, pale and is wearing long decorative swimming trucks instead of the de rigueur smaller, athletic style swimming gear athletes usually wear. John Smith clearly doesn’t belong and doesn’t look able to compete but as he approaches the end of the board he bounces and does a ‘bomb’ into the water, creating a huge splash and soaking the judges. The crowd begin to cheer very loudly. The commentators are very excited, as though he did a perfect and exciting dive. The judges’ scores come up on 37
  38. 38. the screen and he has a perfect score. As John Smith gets out of the pool we see his swim trucks have slip down a bit and we can now see his ‘butt cleavage’. The screen freezes on that shot, and the product is shown in a pint glass with the John Smith’s logo on the glass. Key Points/Messages Nothing overtly in the way of messages in this ad, as it is primarily meant to be humorous. The only message is perhaps for the viewer to identify strongly with John Smith, the diver, and therefore the beer John Smith’s. This is a story of an average guy with nothing obvious to offer in a competition against 2 foreigners that appear to be superior but the less-than-average guy wins. This is somewhat of a twist on the underdog premise. There is also a theme of nationalistic pride with the British flag being displayed alongside the name and logo John Smith’s. Further Analysis 1. Set-up –There appears to be a diving competition going on 2. Delivery – Competitors from around the world are at this event and Britain is represented by John Smith 3. Execution – John Smith is a pasty and pale looking guy who is an out of shape diver but wins a perfect score with a ‘bomb’ dive 4. Mise-en-scene – A professional diving competition 5. Music/Sounds – Crowds cheering as the divers finish their dives, becoming loudest when John Smith dives 6. Themes – Humour and sport 38
  39. 39. Stella Artois – Dying Man – 60 seconds Story Line The setting is in a bedroom, reminiscent of what someone would expect in the first half of the 20th century on continental Europe. An old man is lying on his bed, we assume he is dying, as he looks very weak, surrounded by what we can assume are friends and relatives. His son is by his side asking him what he would like. The old man first requests a flower. His son, after falling out of a tree brings him a flower. The next request is honeycomb and the son, fighting off stinging bees, returns to his father’s deathbed with honeycomb. The next request is ‘Stella Artois’. We see the friends and relatives raise their eyebrows as if to imply they are being put out by having to ‘chip in’ for this latest request. We see coins landing in the son’s hand and then the son hurrying through the streets of a town, carrying a mug of Stella Artois, with logo, as if it was very precious. We then see the son on the back of a truck, implying he had to make the longest journey yet for this request. As we see the son riding in back of the truck with a mug of beer on his way to his dad we notice that temptation has got the best of the son, he can’t hold back any longer and drinks the beer. We then see the truck pull away as the son is standing there looking forlornly at the empty beer mug. A voice in the background asking where his father is, we quickly see the voice came from a priest, rushing along, again implying that the old man’s life is near an end. The next shot is of the son and the priest in the entrance of the house. As the priest looks for a place to put his coat and hat the son offers to take them but hands the empty mug to the priest to hold. The priest then enters the room with the empty mug and the camera shows the bedroom full of people looking at the priest. The camera then shows the son and priests beside each other, everyone looking at them, and the son gestures with his eyes and hand that the priest drank the beer. At this moment the tag line on the bottom of the screen says ‘Stella Artois. Reassuringly expensive’. 39
  40. 40. Key Points/Messages As the final tag line suggests, Stella Artois is such a fantastic beer that cost is not an issue and that it would be one of the final requests from a dying man. It also implies that the temptation of the beer is so strong it overcomes the strongest trust and bonds, such as that of a son and father. Furthermore the beer is so delicious it is entirely believable a priest coming to give last rites would quaff a mug of the beer. Surprisingly this ad was for the UK market (‘brewed in the UK’ appears in the top corner of the screen at the end of the ad) but the entire dialogue was in French. This is surprising considering the relations between the UK and France, that the ad would be so overtly French. Clearly the beer drinker in the UK is meant to identify with the son who succumbed to temptation and drank the beer. Further Analysis 1. Set-up- The sombre setting of a man dying a giving his son last requests 2. Delivery – The son doing whatever his father requests but succumbing to temptation, drinking the beer his father requested and family and friends chipped in for 3. Execution – The finding an opportunistic moment for the son to blame the priest for drinking the precious beer 4. Mise-en-scene- Early 20th century France. 5. Music/Sounds- Classical music in the background, with a French film noir feel. Surprisingly the dialogue is in French 6. Themes – Humour, heritage and camaraderie in the guise of the father/son relationship 40
  41. 41. Carling – Frustrating – 40 seconds Story Line Guy is drinking a beer, he looks around and sees his girlfriend or wife come home. She throws her hands out in disgust and he says, ‘Wot?’ She says, ‘You haven’t cleaned the flat’. We see a flat in disarray and the guy has his feet up on the coffee table, next to cans of Carling. The girl goes to pick up one of the cans and spills the beer. We see the guy’s face grimace at the sight of spilt beer and he immediately cleans it up with his tongue. We then see the girl’s face look as though she has figured something out. She proceeds to spill beer all over the flat, with particular attention paid to the bathroom, with the guy following along, licking up the beer but, as we gradually see, he is inadvertently cleaning the flat. As the tongue is cleaning everything to the tune of ‘Wild Thing’ we see that the girl’s facial expression is showing sexual arousal. The tongue and what it is cleaning appears to be somewhat overtly sexual and the girl shows continued expressions of increasing arousal. She then continues to the bedroom as the guy follows with his tongue (now comically larger) walking on all fours, as he has done from the start of the intentional spilling of the beer, like a loyal dog. The girl, now in the bedroom, goes to pour Carling on herself, clad in sexy underwear, but she is surprised to find she is out of beer. We then see a side shot of the guy and his large tongue go from standing up to becoming limp and flaccid, implying phallic symbolism. The girl tries to desperately shake a drop of the can onto her scantily clad body, making noises of heavy exertion. The last shot if of a full glass of Carling but instead of the brand name on the glass it says ‘Frustrating’ using the same font and style as the Carling logo. Key Points/Messages Carling is so precious and delicious a guy will do just about anything to save every drop. This apparent weakness will make a guy walk around the apartment on all fours like a 41
  42. 42. dog to save every drop but when a girl tries to use this weakness to get her man to do everything she wants it will backfire. Even with a sexy girlfriend in her underwear on the bed, no more Carling means there is no further reason for the guy to lick anymore with his tongue. Further Analysis 1. Set-up – Strain in the relationship of the couple as the guy sat around drinking beer and didn’t clean the flat. This could be considered a classic relationship issue 2. Delivery – The girl notices that the boyfriend will lick anything clean that the beer is spilt on and proceeds to spill Carling on anything in the flat that needs cleaning 3. Execution – Just as the entire flat is clean the girl lures her boyfriend into the bedroom to get him to lick her all over but when she goes to pour Carling on her body she realizes that there is no more beer. The guy’s tongue goes limp, as he clearly is not interested in anything but the beer 4. Mise-en-scene – A typical British flat shared with a girlfriend with what appears to be all mod cons 5. Music/Sounds – Dominant sound is the song ‘Wild Thing’ by the Troggs. There is also the unique ‘gulping’ sound at the beginning as the guy drinks his Carling out of a glass 6. Themes – Humour and sex North American Television Advertisements Bud Light – Bad Dog – 30 seconds Story Line Two men meet in a campground in the woods. One appears to represent the upper class, or preppy, who is well dressed with a sweater around his shoulders. The other man 42
  43. 43. appears middle class and more casually dressed, or average in appearance and dress. The later compliments the dog owned by the preppy guy and he replies, ‘Yeah this is Piper, a purebred boarder collie. Watch this.” The average guy watches the dog boarder collie fetch a bottle of Bud Light from a monogrammed cooler several feet away and bring it to his owner. As the preppy guy smugly enjoys his dog’s recent feet he smugly asks the average guy, ‘What can your dog do?’ We have a closer look at the average man’s dog, noticing it is a diminutive and scruffy looking mutt. The average man says ‘Fergus, Bud Light’. The mutt lunges at the upper class guy’s groin and bites down, causing the recently fetched beer to land in the average guy’s hand quickly followed by an insincere “bad dog” statement to his mutt. We then see a product shot of a bottle of Bud Light flying through the air with a black background, as if being tossed to a friend with the tag line, “Fresh, Smooth, Real”. Finish has the preppy guy desperately pleaded for help to get the dog off his groin. Key Points/Messages As stated in the second last tag-line “Fresh, Smooth, Real”, the beer is meant to represent genuine qualities and align itself with someone who is not a braggart but by someone who is ‘real’. If you drink Bud Light you are better than the upper class. Over-riding message is that Bud Light is the common, genuine man’s beer and people with false airs will get theirs in the end. Further Analysis 1. Set-up – Two guys meet and clearly appear different, ‘upper class/preppy guy’ and ‘middle class/average guy’ 2. Delivery- Preppy guy showing how his dog gets a beer when he says ‘fetch’ 3. Execution – There are two moments of execution. The first is the average guy responds to the question ‘What can your dog do?’ by saying ‘Fergus-Bud Light’ and the dog lunges at the other guys groin, you hear a crunching sound and the beer gets tossed into the average guys hands. The second, subtler punch line is 43
  44. 44. when the average guy says ‘Bad dog’ with a grin on his face as he goes to open his newly acquired beer 4. Mise en scene – Forest with cabin in the background (smoke coming out of chimney) 5. Music/Sounds – No music but starts off birds singing (crows and songbirds). Only strong noise is the crunch sound when Fergus lunges at preppy guy’s groin 6. Themes – Humor and camaraderie in the form of the dog, playing on the ‘man’s best friend’ stereotype Heineken – Birth of Posturing – 30 seconds Story Line The commercial opens at a party outdoors, looking very much like someone’s backyard, with ‘old school’ hip-hop music playing. Within a couple of seconds it becomes apparent this party is exclusively African American and the style of clothing is reminiscent of the 1980s. The protagonist is seen moving around the party, saying ‘Hey’ to friends and then, approaching a couple of women, he say’s ‘Hey Ladies’ with a broad smile and moves over to a cooler. During this time we see numerous product shots of Heineken in the bottle in the hands of partygoers. Our protagonist opens the cooler, moving his body to the music, hands a Heineken to an unseen dancer and as he looks inside the cooler for another beer the lid slams shut on his fingers, causing him to yell out ‘Damn’ and shake his hands with his fingers outstretched. The music picks up-tempo, the screen shot freezes and lettering comes across the screen “July 11, 1985. The Birth of Posturing”. This establishes the time frame and helps explain to the viewer the humour to follow. The protagonist is on the edge of the dance floor (where the cooler was) and he is trying to shake the pain away from his hands, which he happens to be doing this in time with the 44
  45. 45. beat. Two guys away from the dance floor see these ‘new moves’ and begin imitating our injured protagonist. The joke continues as a girl walks by and our protagonist goes to hide his pain, which all men should be able to identify with, by putting both hands under his armpits but by standing confidently with feet wide apart. The two guys also copy this ‘move’ and nod knowingly as if they just witnessed, and participated, in the newest and hippest motions, which was to be called, in later years, posturing. ‘It has to be Heineken’ comes across the screen, as if to imply that this ubiquitous style in urban hip-hop culture originated with a guy getting his fingers slammed by a cooler door at a backyard party because he was reaching for a Heineken. In the last second the Heineken logo comes up on the screen. Key Points/Messages The hip-hop culture is known for it is creativity and development of styles. This advertisement plays on that in a historical context, playing with the origination of posturing, a popular way for males in the hip-hop world to show dominance. Of course the humour lies in the fact that Heineken portrays it happening accidentally as some guy got injured by having his hands in a beer cooler and was copied for having the ‘freshest’ new style of dancing. This is Heineken using humour but also including a key demographic in the US market, particularly on what is ‘cool’ to the 18-25 year old market. Further Analysis 1. Set-up – An outdoor, hip-hop influenced party in the 1980s 2. Delivery – As the lead character grabs Heinekens out of the cooler the slamming lid injures his fingers and he begins to seek relief by shaking his hands 3. Execution – As the protagonist deals with the pain he inadvertently influences two guys in the distance to copy his ‘dance moves’, thus creating a popular trend in the U.S., particularly in the hip-hop world 4. Mise-en-scene – A backyard house party 45
  46. 46. 5. Music/Sounds – ‘Old school’ sounding hip-hop playing at the party 6. Themes – Humour, sex, camaraderie and heritage Miller –Twist – 30 seconds Story Line Starts with product shot and tag line ‘Twist’. First shot is of a window of an apartment in an older brick building. The camera zooms into a small kitchen where a bald, overweight man is walking to his fridge for beer in his underwear. The man looks at the top of beer bottle with a look of bewilderment, puts the beer down and starts dancing or twisting in front of the beer with funky 1970s music starting in background. As he keeps dancing he keeps looking down at the beer. He dances more vigorously and then bends over, taking a closer look at the top of the beer. The camera zooms in and we see the cap on the beer says, ‘Lite Miller – Twist to open’. This explains why the guy is dancing in front of the beer. The camera zooms back out of the apartment as we see the guy’s growing frustration and more frantic dancing (implying that he believes increasing the pace of the dancing is what is needed to open the beer). Key Points/Messages Miller is a beer for the average guy. The average guy, like all of us, can be a little oblivious to the obvious. An average guy will do anything for a beer, including dancing in his underwear alone in his kitchen. The setting is almost sad with a low income, overweight man in undershirt and cheap apartment but with a nostalgic feel for times gone by. The bottle still isn’t open by the end of the commercial. Further Analysis 1. Set-up – A guy alone in his kitchen at night getting a bottle of beer 46
  47. 47. 2. Delivery – Guy begins dancing in front of the beer for some unknown reason 3. Execution – Camera zooms in to see ‘Twist to open’ explaining why the guy is ‘twisting’ in front of the beer 4. Mise-en-scene – Nighttime, cheap urban apartment. Guy by himself 5. Music/Sounds – Urban street noises in background with funky 70s music in background during dancing 6. Themes – Humour Budweiser – Wassup – 60 seconds Story Line Opens with a guy lying back on the couch with a beer on his lap in front of the TV, focused on some sort of sporting event on the television. The phone rings, he picks it up and says ‘hello’. 2nd guy – Hey Lou, What’s up 1st guy – Nothing Bee. Just watching the game, having a Bud. Watchup with you? 2nd guy – Nuttin’. Just watchin’ the game, having a Bud 1st guy – True, true Another guy enters the same room as the first guy and exclaims, ‘Wassuuuup!’ 1st guy to 3rd guy – Wassuuuup 2nd guy – yo, whossat? 1st guy to 3rd guy – Yo, pick up the phone! 3rd guy, picks up the phone and says ‘hello’ 2nd guy – Wassuuuuuuuup 3rd guy – Wassuuup 1st guy – Wassuuup – they are all saying Wassuuup in unison. 3rd guy – Yo, where’s Dookie? (to 2nd guy) 2nd guy yells – Yo, Dookie! (to his housemate upstairs in front of the computer) Dookie picks up the phone and says ‘hello’ 47
  48. 48. 3rd guy says ‘Wasssuuuuup’ Dookie ‘Wassuuup’ and they all join in saying Wassuuuup The door buzzer rings and the 3rd guy puts the phone aside and says ‘hello’ The response is a 5th friend outside with what looks like groceries saying ‘Wassuuup’ They all join in, sort of laughing while they say ‘Wassup’ in unison The other guys all hang up and it finishes with the 1st and 2nd guy 1st guy ‘So what’s up Bee?’ 2nd guy – ‘Watching the game having a Bud’ 1st guy – ‘True, true’ Finishes with a logo shot and the word ‘True’ This spot became legendary with additional commercials being spawned in the theme of the ‘Wassup’ advertisement. Spoofs and parodies exist throughout the internet. Budweiser responded to this cult following by touring the 5 guys in the advertisement around the globe, promoting the brand on the popularity of the commercial. Key Points/Messages This is the epitome of a camaraderie themed commercial with 5 friends all joining in and sharing a bonding moment with their own, fun, unique greeting that makes them all smile. The ‘Wassup’ phrase is slang and explicitly male implying an almost fraternal feeling of closeness in an informal atmosphere. Surprisingly, only 2 of the 5 guys in the commercial are drinking Budweiser. Furthermore, this is a beer commercial that is heavy with dialogue but with a very limited diction. Since dialogue appeared to play such an important role in the advertisement the entire dialogue was included in the deconstruction. Further Analysis 1. Set-up – Two friends on the phone checking in on one another 48
  49. 49. 2. Delivery – More friends join in as the commercial progresses, sharing the ‘Wassup’ phrase 3. Execution – The final and fifth guy joins in from outside in a chorus of ‘Wassup!’ 4. Mise en scene – An urban setting with 2 separate residences but with African American actors as housemates 5. Music/Sounds – Sports game noise on TV in background but mostly silent for dialogue and ‘Wassup!’ 6. Theme – Camaraderie, humour and sport Labatt Blue – Golf Balls – 30 seconds Story Line This commercial begins with a shot from above, with camera shaking slightly, focused on a guy walking away from a building. In casual business dress, briefcase over his shoulder, the guy heads across the street to his parked sports utility vehicle. As the guy walks across the street we hear ‘there he goes’ from an excited and anxious voice with muffled giggling in the background we are to assume belongs to the cameraman and a second person. The second person says ‘this is going to be hilarious’. The viewer can now assume that the voices are coming from the two guys holding the camera. As the guy in the shot arrives at his sports utility vehicle he puts his coffee on the roof as he goes to open the driver side door. As he goes to open his door the two guys say, ‘maybe he doesn’t see’, the other ‘nope he has no idea’ which is echoed by the other guy. Just as he opens his vehicle door hundreds of golf balls come falling out, causing him to stumble, and nearly fall. He can now hear loud laughter and looks up to the window above at the camera that is filming him and he realizes he has been part of a practical joke while he puts his arms out wide as if to ask, ‘Why?’ 49
  50. 50. The pranksters are laughing hard and one yells out ‘Hey that’s littering!’ More infectious laughter comes from the pranksters as the victim surveys the damage and tries to absorb the sheer magnitude of the prank. The commercial then goes to a phrase ‘They tease you because they like you’ A quick shot of the hapless victim in the car with one of the pranksters yelling, ‘Don’t forget you coffee’ Finish with a product shot of 3 bottles and a full glass with the Labatt Blue logo, still laughing in the background with one voice trying to catch his breath, ‘Awe, that was beautiful’. Key Points/Messages The premise of this commercial is friends playing practical jokes on one another. Males understand that only men would go to such elaborate lengths to play such a practical joke on their friends, paradoxically making the friendship bond stronger. This is a point of difference between men and woman that Labatt is trying to capitalize on, stroking the camaraderie theme. The shaking camera affect is meant to imply this was actually a real prank among friends and not a staged commercial. Golf balls were used, emphasizing the masculine theme. Further Analysis 1. Set-up – Voyeuristic view of a guy going to his vehicle parked on the road 2. Delivery – Friends are videotaping him and whispering anxiously, waiting for their friend to open his car door 3. Execution – Door opens, golf balls fall out and the prank is successful 4. Mise-en-scene – Average looking street, could be just about anywhere in NA 5. Music/Sounds – Laugher and dialogue, implying a genuine prank 6. Themes – Camaraderie and sport 50
  51. 51. Bud Light – Head in Fridge – 30 seconds Story Line Two guys are in a kitchen with a sports game being watched on TV. One guy is on all fours, and we see, after a camera close up of his buttocks, that he is using tools that are being handed to him casually by his friend. The guy on all fours is very engaged in something, as if he is fixing a plumbing problem. We soon see he is trying to break into the fridge in the next apartment by going through cupboards, etc. not unlike the famous war movie The Great Escape. As he breaks in he says to his friend ‘I’m in’. The camera then spins around showing the ‘tunnel’ he has made to the fridge in the adjoining apartment. A female in the next apartment approaches her fridge, opens the door and screams in horror because, as we soon see, she see a man’s head in her fridge. A man in the second apartment, we can assume is the boyfriend or husband goes to see what made the woman scream. He opens the fridge door and he screams just as loud but when the camera looks inside the fridge we see that the head is gone and he is screaming because his Bud Light is missing. The commercial cuts to a bottle of Bud Light against a black background and a narrator saying ‘For the great taste of beer that will never let you down…’ We see the guys we first saw casually watching the game on the TV and one guy says to the other, ‘We are out of dip’. The guy who broke into the fridge initially goes back to breaking into the neighbours’ fridge again, asking for pliers. The voice over then finishes with the statement, ‘…make it a Bud Light’ with the logo on a bottle cap. 51
  52. 52. Key Points/Messages The premise is that guys will do anything for beer, including an elaborate break-in to get their neighbours’ six bottles of Bud Light. Further Analysis 1. Set-up – Two guys in a kitchen with a sports game on, as one guy appears to fix something 2. Delivery – The guy fixing something breaks into the neighbours’ fridge, through the wall, to steal their beer but gets caught by the female neighbour who only sees a strange man’s head in her fridge 3. Execution – When the male neighbour (boyfriend or husband) goes to investigate why the girl screamed he lets out a similar scream when he finds his beer is missing 4. Mise-en-scene – Urban apartments or perhaps semi-detached homes 5. Music/Sounds – Sports game on TV in the apartment of the beer ‘bandits’ 6. Themes – Humour, sport, and camaraderie 52
  53. 53. Summa ry of Theme s Within Selecte d Televisi on Adverti sement s Themes Humour Camaraderie Sport Sex Heritage Commercials Europe Heineken - 3 Generations X X X Amstel - Man or Woman X X X X Beck's - Raw Eggs X Heineken - Flexible Dancing X X Tuborg - Beer Goggles X X United Kingdom John Smith's - Top Bombing X X Carling - Cracking X X Carlsberg - Ultimate Holiday X X X Stella Artois - Old Man X X X Carling - Frustrating X X Carlsberg - Flatmates X X X X North America Bud Light - Good Dog X X Labatt Blue - Golf Balls X X X Miller - Twist X Budweiser - Wassup X X X Bud Light - Head in Fridge X X X Heineken - Birth of Posturing X X X Note: X Denotes the indication of the theme is present in the advertisement Although physical contact wasn’t part of the study it can be noted that when sex, as a theme, was part of the advertisement, there was actually no physical contact with the opposite sex in the seventeen advertisements studied. There was, interestingly enough, erotic touching of the two females in the European Beck’s commercial. Whether this is a 53
  54. 54. coincidence or not will have to be deduced upon further research however it might indicate that the advertiser wants to keep the product as the focus of the advertisement as any lewd sexual touching may distract from the brand. Certainly there was an attempt by every commercial to engage the viewer in an entertaining way. The challenge perhaps was to entertain in a short time frame, 30 seconds or longer for UK or European commercials. Camaraderie and humour appear to be dominant themes in all three markets studied. Of the seventeen advertisements analyzed, only one commercial is void of the theme of humour while only four advertisements are void of camaraderie. Interestingly, the themes of sport and sex appear to be the themes providing a point of difference in how the brand message is conveyed. Three of the five selected European commercials used sex as a theme while only one NA commercial employed it. Sport as a theme was strong in the NA advertisements appearing more often than the other two markets. European advertisements only used sport once, out of five, as a theme. The theme appeared twice, out of six, in the UK market. Furthermore, the UK market uses sports nearly as often as the NA market while also using sex more liberally, appearing three times out of six, only slightly less concentrated than the European market which used it three out of five times. Discussion The three markets studied, as addressed earlier, have a strong potential to posses commonalities due to their current and historical ties as the ‘Western world’ yet there are clearly differences in the thematic messages that are currently employed to develop flagship beer brands in their respective markets. The advertising language beer marketers 54
  55. 55. have used in these markets appear to have significant differences and therefore one can assume that if a brewer hopes to reach out to the beer consumer successfully in these markets a hybrid approach looks to hold the most promise. Humour and camaraderie both appear to be strong themes in all markets and these two concepts might be enough for the brewer to successfully reach across markets however other themes such as sports and sex appear in stark contrast to one another, sex being a popular theme within the UK and Europe but only appearing once in a NA beer advertisement. Sport, as was mentioned earlier, has a dominant presence in NA advertising. It would be difficult to conceive of a beer brand growing in NA, particularly the US, without being tied to sports in to some degree. Humour, as a recurring theme is difficult to measure or even explain in the academic context. Certainly it can be understood that there is exclusive and inclusive humour. Brewers frequently use exclusive humour as a tool access the targeted demographic, such as young males. An example of this exclusive humour is seen in the Heineken ‘Birth of Posturing’ commercial. The use of the hip-hop genre would strike a chord with fans of the music or at least those aware of it, while others may only find the commercial only slightly amusing. Here again the marketer must decide how the message is delivered. Inclusive humour can strike resonance with a certain demographics but risk excluding others. Does broader, or inclusive, humour serve the brand better? Again, this question is for another study to address however it should be understood that themes, although important to the message, are complex in themselves. The ‘three-guy rule’ that was addressed earlier appears to be a key component of the camaraderie theme for beer commercials. Brewers are reticent to include demographics that are outside the traditional market for beer, young males. Any association with other demographics, such as women representing roughly half the population, can change the image of the brand to loyal beer drinkers and possibly damaging future sales. 55