TAKING POLE POSITION IN PREMIUM BEER

TitleTAKING POLE POSITION IN PREMIUM BEER
ClientAB INBEV
Product / ServiceBUDWSEISER PORCHE COMMEMORATIVE BOTTLE
CategoryA05. Best Launch or Re-Launch
EntrantFLEISHMAN-HILLARD Beijing, CHINA
PR Agency FLEISHMAN-HILLARD Beijing, CHINA
Entrant Company FLEISHMAN-HILLARD Beijing, CHINA

The Campaign

In China there are 200 domestic beer brands and almost 100 foreign brands fighting for their own market share. The industry has gradually been characterized by slim profits margins mainly because 88% of the market is taken up by low-end products. Companies have to look for other ways to increase their margins – one such way is to dominate the premium beer market for upwardly mobile urbanites. As the ‘king’ of beers, Budweiser has endeavored to lead the premium drinks market in China. To help facilitate this Budweiser proudly sponsored a major sports event, the “2012 Porche Carrera Cup Asia” (PCCA). The perception was that this would build on its reputation, resonate with its target audience and help Budweiser realize its market strategy of dominating the premium beer market within China. Dutch born Chinese racing driver Tung Ho-Pin would be the star power that would add legitimacy to Budweiser’s strategy. To commemorate its partnership with PCCA, Budweiser launched a brand new aluminum bottle, marking the company’s exploration into motor racing as a core strand to its marketing efforts in China. The aim was to not only to connect with its core audience via motor racing but develop strong connotations as a premium beer through the release of a new stylish bottle. Will the new commemorative package be welcomed by Chinese consumers? How will the media react and comment on this new sports sponsorship? What can Budweiser do to build confidence in this new product among its key distributors?

The Brief

To build Budweiser’s brand image as passionate, sports-savvy, fashionable and noble through sponsorship and association with the PCCA. To reinforce Budweiser’s relationship with its stakeholders: the media, KOLs, distributors and consumers. To maximize the exposure of the event through media coverage and to trigger-off favorable discussion about Budweiser among the target audience. To establish a connection between the Budweiser aluminum bottle and the lifestyle characteristics of the target audience. To promote the sales volume of Budweiser aluminum bottles and maximize its ROI on sponsorship.

Results

The marketing efforts lead to substantial revenue growth for Budweiser. In 2012, the company became one of the three biggest beer brands in the Chinese market. Importantly, they were the only foreign brand in Top 3. According to John HSU, President of BU North Business of AB InBev, “Budweiser is in possession of 40% of the premium beer market in China.” By shaping everything around the high-end desires of the growing middle-class in China, we were able to position our launch and subsequent campaign perfectly for our target audience. Moreover, we had extensive feature opportunities within mainstream TV channels, including: The Travel Channel, MTV, and Channel Young. The event resulted in 124 clippings, 3 were from TV, 10 from online video sites, 14 from print media, and 97 from major online portals.

Execution

Pre-event warm-up campaign was initiated across social media platforms. KOLs were leveraged to maximize the campaigns influence. Weibo interactive events, such as reposting lucky draws attracted a wide range of netizens, with some events generating heated discussions, which is a successful word-of-mouth marketing practice. The offline launch event was also broadcast live online to enhance the exposure on owned media. A grand release ceremony was held at 798 Art Zone to give the target audience a deeper, hands-on, understanding of the new package. With global racing sensation Tung Ho-Pin driving a Porsche onstage and a singing and dancing performance by Della DING, a famous Taiwanese singer. Detailed pre-event briefing for Budweiser spokespeople and race driver ensured a core message ran though the campaign. Sufficient preparation of press materials ensured to-the-point message delivery to the media. Precisely-targeted media and proactive media outreach helped to generate extensive coverage.

The Situation

Budweiser is a globally renowned beer, with a large market share in its home of the USA. The brand has a strong reputation as a supporter of sports across the globe. In China there are 200 domestic beer brands and almost 100 foreign brands fighting for their own market share. The industry is heavily saturated and in many geographical areas lacking the market maturity to guarantee high returns on investment. We were asked to leverage all their brand strengths and create a launch event that would help push Budweiser to the top of the premium drinks market in China.

The Strategy

Budweiser adopted an integrated communications strategy to communicate the core messages to target audiences, which incorporated online and offline communication campaigns. This included: Well-knitted digital campaign to build steady momentum and engage the target audiences. 'Opening’ ceremony to ensure customers have a direct connection with the new product and develop connotations through the brand, the new product, and what it represents to their lifestyle. Methodical media training and pre-briefing to ensure a cohesive approach to the core message. Strategically targeted and proactive media outreach plan was in place to guarantee extensive media coverage.

Credits

Name Company Position
Mark Johnson Fleishmanhillard China Senior Consultant
Jia Ruiting Fleishmanhillard China Senior Account Executive
Neko Chen Fleishmanhillard China Account Manager
Teresa Song Fleishmanhillard China Vice President
Jerry Zou Fleishmanhillard China Partner/Senior Vice President
Li Hong Fleishmanhillard China Senior Partner/President