August 17, 2012

Why Amstel Light's Savor Complexity Campaign Makes Me Giddy

I never considered myself an ad geek until I got all giddy about Old Spice back in 2011. Amstel Light’s new campaign,Savor Complexity, by Droga5 New York, has reinforced this geekness.

As a brand, Amstel Light hasn’t been known in the past for shelling out great ad campaigns. Its popularity in the market I would argue was based on the premise that it wasn’t Miller or Bud Light, and that it was "imported" making it a better product by default. Actually, I couldn't even recall an Amstel Light campaign if you asked me but apparently, they've had them.

Their most recent integrated campaign, however, created to move the beer away from it's low calorie yet full body positioning and posit it as a complex, sophisticated and multi-dimensional beer, or in other words "deep", via the well-crafted storytelling of commonly simple things like hamburgers, darts and pigeons, got me giddy like a schoolgirl.

Here’s why the campaign is likeable.

Firstly, unlike traditional advertising, where the hard sell is upfront, this campaign tells me a story; educating me on things I didn't know. In “The Complex Tale of Whistling” story I learned that whistling as an art form is called puccalo, birds don’t have tear ducts and Louisburg, North Carolina is the world’s whistling capital. (I also learned that North Carolina has a city named Louisburg). In its “The Complex Tale of a Burger,” I get taken through a journey of food porn when at the end I’m left wanting said burger and a cold Amstel Light to wash it down.

And I love that when the campaign first came out, each interaction with an ad was a new story, a new experience. It's like first grade storytelling time all over again, except without the sugar cookies.

Other people designers think the execution sucks, but it’s the first campaign I’ve stopped to read in a long time and one that I still read over and over again -- that matters for brand engagement. But, will I now go in for an Amstel light when I want a light beer?  Not sure? Whenever I choose to drink a light beer - choose being the operative word - I usually go in for a Miller Light. (Somewhere along the way, I became brand loyal to that). But I’m also not righteous enough to say that ad campaigns don’t influence me. Maybe next time I’m in a bar, having a complex conversation, I will interrupt and say, “You know, there’s a beer for this moment," and I will take a sip, ponder it and say, "You know, it is a slightly complex. Just like the ad said." Actually, probably not, but I will talk about how much I liked the campaign and how much better it compared to this. And when it comes to brand building, this is where advertising matters.

Here's where this gets dangerous for Amstel, though. Craft beer (IPA rather because, is it just me or is every craft beer an IPA?) is dominating the market currently and it's called craft beer because it, unlike well, un-crafted and mass-produced beer (Amstel Light), is by nature more complex. The word craft in of itself denotes a certain level of sophistication and complexity - the same category Amstel Light is trying to position itself in with this campaign. While Droga gave Amstel a great campaign I'm wondering if they're risking digging themselves into a wanna be beer category and being pinged by the Bell's and Dogfish's of the world. Or, will they convince the light beer drinkers, possibly unaware of the craft beer category, that Amstel Light is the new craft beer?

This video has nothing to do with beer and everything to do with sausage, but I like it, too.

Thanks for reading!

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