Carlsberg’s Toast to Courage

Picture this: You walk into a movie theater and almost every seat is full of burly, mean-looking bikers. If that wasn’t already an intimidating situation, the only available seats are right in the middle of the center row, meaning if you want to watch the movie from a seated position, you’ll have to make your way through aisles of bikers who are staring you down.

What do you do?

If you’re like most people, you’ll enter the room and utter sentiments like, “You’ve got to be kidding me” and “This is not what I paid for.” You might even walk out and maybe head to the box office to ask for your money back. But if you’re among a brave handful, you’ll sit down anyway, wait patiently for the movie to start and … receive thunderous applause and a fresh Carlsberg to toast your courage.

The Impact

It’s a simple premise that struck a chord with a lot of people. The video, released in September 2011, had 11 million views on YouTube as of early May 2012. Elke Janssens, senior account manager at Duval Guillaume Modem, the Belgium-based ad agency behind the effort, says that there have been 16 million views worldwide, more than 1.5 million shares on Facebook, 364,000 mentions on Twitter and free publicity in more than 900 blogs, 150 news websites, numerous TV shows, newspapers and magazines — all with a correct brand attribution of 98%. In addition, there was a 4.3% increase in sales, by volume, in the third and fourth quarter of 2011, Janssens says.

What’s remarkable about the campaign is that the bit of theater Carlsberg created tied so closely to the brand’s positioning.

Janssens noted that Carlsberg introduced a new tagline in early 2011 — “That calls for a Carlsberg.” The slogan underpins a new creative strategy, essentially making a Carlsberg the reward for an act of courage. “Starting from this strategy, our creative team came up with some viral ideas for experiments where people have to step up out of their comfort zone and show courage,” Janssens says.

Hence the theater full of bikers.

It is obvious that Carlsberg had developed an excellent advertising goal and also, an advertising design in order to attract its target market. Social media acted as an effective communication channel for Carlsberg to expand its market share.

Authors: Hoi Ting Heidi Li & Yan Li


21 thoughts on “Carlsberg’s Toast to Courage

  1. The use of social media as an advertising medium is something that is of importance and relevance in modern day. Viral videos can definitely create attention as proven by Carlsberg, they can be relatively inexpensive to produce and has a wide reach, however it could be difficult to control and be used as a targeted medium. There is also a high risk of it becoming offensive or worse a flop. I wonder if they released this video as a TV advert, if it would have the same level of success? Surely not


  2. Carlsberg perfectly identified their target market and creatively designed an advert which appeals to this group. bikers are presumably believed to represent toughness which people like me wouldn’t like to be anywhere near to them. it is all about knowing who you want to sale your product to. advertisement message can than be tailored to them.


  3. I find developing a tagline for a brand as a highly effective marketing method. When a brand such as Carlsberg focus on one tagline ‘That calls for a Carlsberg’, it makes efforts towards integrated marketing communications easier. The underpinning tagline can then allow for various marketing components to reflect on a simple concept. Carlsberg have done very well to appeal to their target market in this advert. I believe what makes this campaign so effective is that Carlsberg shift from trying to distinguish their taste of beer to the experiences that customers can relate to. Taglines though can require change over time to reflect according to the goals of a business. In the following link is an article which points out various brands and their taglines over time.


  4. This piece of marketing is fantastic! Our environment in this day and age is so cluttered and saturated that it takes strokes of genius like this to break through. I feel that the increases in recognition and sales a company receives after a clever marketing campaign are its just desserts for a job well done. Of course, humour is often seen as a clever way to market products and these funny ads are usually everyones favourites but as was mentioned in the lecture, these ads are often ineffective because they are funny the first time you see them but this fades with repeat exposure. Also, the brand recall is often weak. So to sum up, breaking through the clutter is key to having a successful marketing campaign, but a company needs to be careful as to how it does this as a marketing campaign needs to expose the brand and alert the customer, not just make them laugh


  5. Creating an ad that stops people flicking to the next channel is difficult, especially if they’ve seen it a couple of times before. But that’s what Carlsberg created, a campaign with unlimited watch-ability. Although Carlsberg achieved a double win situation for both customers and company. Carlsberg still needs to be careful as to how it working as a marketing campaign needs to expose the brand and alert the customers, not just make them laugh.


  6. thank you for share~
    Smart marketers will develop a brand a slogan to attract consumers, as Carlsberg is developing a slogan to make, which is ‘That calls for a Carlsberg’, it easier for consumers to remember, and another example is Heineken ads, which focus on a color, which is green, when consumers will expect to see green, they will easly to remember Heineken, so let the integrated marketing communications seem easier. Carlsberg identified their target market alrealy, the innovative design of advertising, and use advertising to attract this target group.


  7. Carlsberg succeeded in creating viral video that nicely captures the essence of the brand and that really portrays the “that calls for a Carlsberg” moment perfectly. Today many viral videos plays on the doubt whether the video is fake or not. But this video portrays the daily act of courage and is authentic in the sense that it emphasizes the real-life and spontaneous reactions to the situation. And this is the entertaining part in it and what makes worth a look.


  8. Interesting blog, and very clever marketing from carlsberg as you’ve mentioned. When they sat down, it nearly had me jumping out of my seat celebrating with the bikers and booing at the people who left.

    Prejudice and ignorant people are becoming more rare. However, as seen in the video there are still people influenced by certain groups. The act of sitting in a cinema full of bikers being publicised as courageous and celebrated is warming as the society progresses in not judging a book by its cover.

    Some of the people entering the cinema most likely knew not one of the bikie people in there but already formed their own opinions and let that get the better of them.

    I wonder if the people that left the cinema would have acted the same if the cinema had been full of people of the same particular religion/sexuality/gender/race?


  9. I loved this ad … it had me cringing initially as I could imagine myself in that position and thinking the same thing. Do I charge on through and take the seats or slowly slink out hoping no takes too much notice. I think the ingenuity was they were able to identify a situation that nearly all people could relate to in one point in their life …. maybe not to such an extreme. Though as stated in previous blogs and out text will this humorous add communicate the message and brand of Carlsberg? Whilst the stats would say yes I would be interested in knowing what additional marketing mix was used during this campaign to ensure the message and brand continued to linger in customers minds after the humour wore off.


  10. It’s these real life situation we find ourselves in, that make it easy to relate and remember this add, appealing on our emotions is one way great marketers have an influence on their desired consumer. This was a great example, and we can learn lots from this. Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Another great example of a company using their creative efforts to place the audience in the frame of their marketing, engaging with them on a deeper level and developing a more personal connection. The beauty of this sort of ad is that it appeals to the persona that people would like to see themselves as, making it aspirational.
    The alignment between their brand position and the video’s message is perfect. I would love to see more of this series of advertisements to see how they brought ‘That calls for a Carlsberg’ to life in other mediums!


  12. You Hit the nail on the head in terms of finding an innovative ad made for the modern age. It’s becoming very hard for ads to break through and the greater access to social media the better the outcome. That being said it needs to be positive social media like Carlsberg have generated here.


  13. They are positioning the beer very cleverly and interestingly they show that Carlsberg is for brave people and creating an image of beer for brave people hence everyone would like to be pictured as a brave person by having a Carlsberg. This advertisement gives a positive emotional feel to the consumers t=and they want to associate themselves with it hence company saw an increase in sales!!


  14. Carlsberg was successful in addressing an issue its target population i.e. us the today’s safe playing generation faces everyday. Its not difficult for everyone of us to actually identify with those couples out there. N its not difficult to guess what most of us would have done in those situations. The things changed when all bikers started clapping and smiling thus giving us a comic relief of an everyday situation, a relief we rarely see in our real life.


  15. yes, the ad is really a good example for how TV spots can be supplemented by social media to increase reach and target a young and internet affine customer segment. Social media here serves as a mediator to make word of mouth travel high speed and engage consumer with the brand.


  16. I really enjoy a good advert whether on the TV or social media, especially ones that make me laugh. Ads that entertain a great at getting attention but I agree with mthorn above – I don’t always recall the brand unless I see it a few times – and it can tend to wear thin. Although those companies that produce a series of these sorts of ads can certainly get their brand out there. Social media does seem to be a better avenue for targeting the younger generations – certainly my teens can chew through more than their fair share of download on u-tube and seek out and share entertaining clips.


  17. I really like this ad! It reminds me a similar video by Carlsberg beer. This time they put friendships to the test by setting up unsuspecting people and making them believe their friends were in trouble to see how they would respond. They received a phone call from their best friend in the early morning, 1am to 5am asking them to bring money to a poker game. The friend tells they were in trouble and couldn’t leave until they’d paid. Friends who agreed to go and help had to make their way through some very shady situations before reaching the poker game. If they went all the way and dropped money on the table, they found out it was a stunt by Carlsberg. That is the charm of ‘Standing up for a friend… that calls for a Carlsberg’.
    Fans were also encouraged to put their friends through a similar test by using social media such as Facebook app to see whether their friends would help out in the middle of the night. The video was published in March 2013 and only a couple of days, it has reached over 1.5 million views!
    Here is the link:


  18. I must have been living under a rock because I have never seen this campaign until now. This campaign really appeals to a wide audience and relays humour in its delivery.

    I was delighted by this commercial and thought the clever use of their new slogan is testament to forward thinking and a great integrated brand strategy.


  19. Social media plays an important role in advertising. As we all know Facebook is the largest social network on the planet. This blog remembers me of a video in which friends were tested weather they would help their friends at the middle of the night and in no time it had reached more than 3 million views which also helped promote Carlesberg beer.


  20. Good post!
    I was aware about their slogan but I had never watched that video. It was a wonderful video and a very different way to market their slogan. I cant really comment on anything else about Carlsberg, but definitely after watching that video one would try out Carlsberg or after doing something courageous, they would celebrate it with a Carlsberg beer.


  21. Making a promotion that stops individuals flicking to the following channel is troublesome, particularly in the event that they’ve seen it two or three times some time recently. Yet, that is the thing that Carlsberg made, a battle with boundless watch-capacity. Despite the fact that Carlsberg accomplished a twofold win circumstance for both clients and organization. Carlsberg still needs to be watchful concerning how it filling in as a promoting battle needs to uncover the brand and caution the clients, not simply make them giggle


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