In 1973, ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi gave Carlsberg the tagline “Probably the best beer in the world.” Ever since, the brewing company based out of Copenhagen has been working hard to live up to the hype. Two years ago, it embarked on a mission to do the same with its content.
That’s when the Carlsberg Group took its global content marketing in-house. “We made the decision to invest and take ownership of our content,” said Daria Radota Rasmussen, global digital and media director for the Carlsberg Group. “It’s basically our business card to the world.”
The transition began with Facebook. Carlsberg—one of the five largest brewery groups in the world, the fourth largest in the UK, and the biggest brewer in Northern Europe—started experimenting with the social network. At that time, the company outsourced its content marketing to multiple ad agencies, but it slowly began upgrading its internal talent and resources. It produced not just Facebook posts but also videos, a library of brand stories, and cross-channel experiential marketing campaigns.
Today, the Carlsberg Group team headquartered in Denmark produces 60 percent of its marketing content, while regional offices that span Northern and Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Asia, and the United States develop the other 40 percent. But the Carlsberg Group doesn’t just churn out content for its brands, which include Carlsberg, Tuborg, Kronenbourg, Baltika, Grimbergen, and Somersby cider. The primary mandate is to act as brand steward by creating a content marketing playbook, defining a brand voice, and ensuring that all local offices adhere to the same social media standards. Weekly meetings with the regional teams ensure that everyone stays consistent.
The Carlsberg Group’s Denmark team includes a creative lead, who drives the development of creative concepts, and a journalist with a background in music. Together, they are responsible for the brand’s global content strategy, working with a network of freelancers to scale production. Graphic designers, photographers, and filmmakers are selected based on project requirements.
“We don’t need these [people] on a daily basis,” Radota Rasmussen explained. “Different brands need different skills.”
For a company the size of Carlsberg, which also boasts more than 500 local brands, moving global content marketing operations in-house was a savvy move. As Contently’s Shane Snow wrote in June, if brands hope to be effective at content marketing, they need a consistent brand voice, and that requires that they “bring content closer to home.”
Not only does this approach make it easy for the Carlsberg Group to stay on-brand, but it also allows the brand to react more quickly to marketing opportunities. “The fact that we can have daily contact between brand teams and bounce ideas whenever they come in—in real time—makes a lot of strong solutions come out of this,” Radota Rasmussen said. “We bring a global perspective and share with the other markets to deliver scale and build the brand.”
The proof is in the content. Interactive evergreen features on the Carlsberg site, like “Carlsberg Pioneers” and “The Art of Making Beer,” guide customers through the company’s commitment to craftsmanship and 150 years of history.
On its YouTube channel, videos merge the “If Carlsberg did” slogan with the “probably the best” brand claim in a playful and memorable way.
In the realm of experimental marketing campaigns, Carlsberg generated buzz last year with a London billboard that dispensed beer to pedestrians passing by, while this past March it created a bar made entirely from chocolate.
Carlsberg has also launched a line of men’s grooming products incorporating beer that became the basis for an ad campaign, along with a beer-flavored sorbet (or, rather, #SorBeer).
It’s worth noting that even though Carlsberg Group has moved beyond agencies for its global content, many local offices still use them. For example, Carlsberg enlisted Crispin Porter + Bogusky Copenhagen to develop Beer Beauty.
In the UK, Carlsberg partnered with customer engagement agency The Marketing Store to launch a social media newsroom last year. Together, they produce “real-time, reactive social content.” This includes videos on Vimeo, like “How to Make #ProbablytheBest Bottle Opener in the World,” and Vine videos related to cultural events such as Star Wars Day (May 4).
Carlsberg’s social content in the UK surpassed industry engagement benchmarks by more than 1,200 percent in 2015, according to a recent Econsultancy report.
After local content goes live, the Carlsberg Group picks the pieces of content with the most potential to go viral and uses the brand’s resources to promote them on a global stage.
“On a regular basis, regional teams will come up with ideas, and we will run with those,” Radota Rasmussen said. Since centralizing its global content production, the company is “collaborating more with individual markets, but also inspiring markets to produce more [content] on their own.”
While Carlsberg still uses Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for images that incorporate the #IfCarlsbergDid and #Probably hashtags, its main focus today is largely video, which Radota Rasmussen notes is “the most effective format for us and gives us the most response.”
Promotional concepts like the #CarlsbergDrone 2015 April Fools’ Day prank, which promised to deliver cold beer from a drone across the UK, are typically turned into video. Dharmesh Rana, senior brand manager with Carlsberg UK, told Marketing Week that the beer drone video cost £5,000 to make, and generated over £130,000 of free media.
“There’s so much content out there, and it’s a very crowded space,” Radota Rasmussen said. “We used to follow a three-posts-a-week rule, but now we do fewer and better posts. You have to maximize, and give [consumers] the best content you have.”
That’s probably the best advice a brand could get.