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First off – Chunk’s not The Beer Website Company, although we’ve worked with seven different beer brands (!) they’ve been for one client. We hope it’s just that they’re so happy with our work they keep asking us back. We do other types of work, honest!

We won a pitch for our first beer website (Kronenbbourg) back in 2002 and by working hand in hand with a great client for the last 3 years we like to think we’ve developed an understanding for the target audience, the beers (not just drinking them), the marketing of the beers and the alcohol guidelines you have to work to in the UK.

When we started out, a lot of the online marketing was a transfer or extension of the offline advertising, and although this is still the case where it’s appropriate, our client has become more confident in our ability and we’ve gradually taken a more pro-active role in creating bespoke online marketing for their campaigns.

Objectives and Solutions

The bottom line is that a beer website should sell beer, but most beer brands don’t sell directly for the fear that they may piss-off their distributors, like the big supermarkets. So we have to look at indirect ways to sell beer, like increasing brand awareness and directing people towards the on-trade (pubs and clubs) or the off-trade (supermarkets and grocers).

Get people in and give them the message

Increasing brand awareness is about attracting as may people as you possibly can to your site and giving them the right brand message. Obviously the visitors should mainly be from your target demographic, there’s no point in selling UK beer to 13 year-old, Japanese skateboarders!

The difficulty of creating a large number of visitors differs from brand to brand, for example

Foster’s branding and target demographic requires quite base, lowest common denominator type of ideas, which is perfect for viral marketing, but Kronenbourg on the other hand is aimed at a slightly more sophisticated (supposedly!), older audience.

The fact that the Kronenbourg audience is more niche means that an equally good execution for both brands is probably going to result in a lower audience for Kronenbourg. However, the target audience is smaller, so you should be able to attract the same percentage of the right people.

If you get the creative side of things right for the brand (we’ll talk about that a bit more later), you still have to let people know about it. We use email marketing to tell people about new online work and post up url’s in different forums and we also keep our fingers crossed that sites like www.theFWA.com pick up the work for extra publicity (as it did with www.becks.co.uk).

Keeping an eye on the stats over the period of a campaign also allows us to tweak things here and there or give the site another push on the forums if things look like they’re sagging!

Get them to buy the beer

Assuming we’ve done the tricky bit of getting lots of people to the site and they like the stuff we’ve got there, the next part is to try and get them to buy the beer.

We’ve already mentioned that most beer brands don’t sell directly, so to sell it indirectly we try and push the user towards the pubs, clubs and supermarkets.

To do that we created a system where we scan the users computer for dodgy files, upload them to a website and then blackmail them until they’ve brought back beer from their nearest stockist (hilarious joke there I’m sure you’ll agree).

It’s obviously impossible to force people along to their nearest stockists and until we get the blackmail system up and running (!), the best we can do is make stockists and venues as easy as possible to find.

Where it makes sense, we try and incorporate a postcode search facility which allows the user to type in their postcode and search for the address of their nearest stockists or venues (they even get a map to follow).

We also try and make sure the search facility is always at hand, so for example, if we create a viral game we include a postcode search below it and the user is prompted to use it at every opportunity, without becoming annoying.

The Creative Stuff

Regulations

Online advertising of beer in the UK is governed by the Portman Group. There are too many rules and regulations to cover completely (without putting you to sleep) but generally they’re things like:

- Not showing people looking sexy because of alcohol, or having it relate to sex generally

- Not naming your beer Lets Get Steaming, Blitzed, or something similar

- Not encouraging people to drink more than the recommended guidelines (2 for 1 offers, ‘see how much you can drink’ type games etc.)

- Encouraging people to drink responsibly (by including a Please Drink Responsibly logo amongst other things)

- Not providing content aimed at an age group below the legal drinking age

Interestingly (well it is for me!), although most beer websites include a date of birth age entry page, it’s not required. Most beer companies regulate themselves quite strictly and are happy to add additional things like date of birth checks to ensure that they’re well within the guidelines and encouraging responsible drinking.

Ideas

Because we can’t sell the products online at bargain prices, the content’s got to be entertaining to get people in and keep them coming back.

Sometimes this can be done by simply taking the offline work and putting it online - the John Smith’s Peter Kay ads, for example are so good and so popular that there’s no need to do a lot more than put them online. Being able to recognise that the offline content is reusable is important to the client as it saves them money and maximises their budget.

It’s also important to recognise when campaigns don’t have the necessary oomph to be taken online.

This year’s Foster’s Australia Day campaign (Australia Day is celebrated on the 26th of January and Foster’s marks the occasion by throwing thousands of parties all over the UK) had below-the-line work that was mainly images of sunny skies and people enjoying Australian beaches.

It’s difficult to create a big audience online with the promise of photos of the Australian sunshine, so we took the decision to move away from the offline work and create a standalone online campaign.

The concept we came up with was Cheer Up Cobbers! A site devoted to getting people to forget about the drab British winter by giving them fun and games to play with. To keep people coming back, the games were released over a four week period as a little post Christmas advent calendar, with a game being ‘opened’ each week in the lead up to the big day.

The games were tied into the Cheer Up Cobbers! concept: Escape to Oz was a game where you had to fly a balloon from wintry Britain to sunny Australia while dodging giant baguettes, a swinging Tower of Pisa and crazy seagulls, as you pass over other countries.

Cheer Up! was a plaything where you took grumpy looking businessmen and stretched there faces into a funny smile; in Celebrity Flat Club you had to flatten all the celebrity fitness addicts who sell their videos after the New Year and Slide was a ‘see how far you can slide on the ice’ game that gave you the chance to enjoy the winter weather without getting your feet wet.

Results

One of the big benefits of online work is that you can see exactly how many users have been on your website and where they’ve gone.

The results from Cheer Up Cobbers! were excellent as we quadrupled the traffic from the previous year’s campaign, and because we created games that could still be played after the campaign was over, we managed to keep traffic high after Australia Day had passed.

Unfortunately, because Foster’s doesn’t sell beer online, it’s difficult to track exactly how many beers have been sold as a result of the online work (the bottom line). However, over 50% of the visitors to the website searched for a party venue or stockist, which in our, and more importantly the client’s opinion, was a pretty high return.

Summary

As you can probably guess, creating beer sites is about trying to sell as much of your client’s beer as possible.

To do that, we try to create the biggest audience e can, give them the right brand messages and then make it as simple as possible for them to get to the beer!

About Chunk:

Chunk is based in Scotland and started up in November 2001.

We always aim to help our clients reach their targets by being entertaining and original and we’ve worked with brands like Beck’s, Shell and Foster’s to create a wide range of work that hopefully matches those goals.

On our deathbed we’d like to be remembered for putting a smile on people’s faces, selling our clients’ products and living to a hundred!


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