Is Havas taking on the impossible with Carling?

Molson Coors’ Carling has picked Havas to handle its UK account for Carling, once the top selling beer in the UK. Carling is the new sponsor of the UK Premier league, taking over from Barclays.

Havas beat Brothers and Sisters, FCB Inferno and Saatchi in the pitch, pretty decent competition. Incumbent Creature was knocked out an earlier stage. It’s a good win for new Havas UK CEO Xavier Rees.

Advertising one of these old-style lager-like beers is, arguably, one of the toughest jobs in advertising. Look at the knots Wieden+Kennedy ties itself in trying to make sense of Bud Light in the US (below). Anyone with the money will buy something else in the pub or the supermarket.

It will be an interesting test for Havas. While new Havas CEO Yannick Bolloré (the holding company is now owned by the Bolloré family) seems to have got his strategy in place, his Havas “village” notion does tend to leave the creative agency (formerly Euro RSCG) as one of a number of departments, thereby lacking profile.

Carling’s great days were in the 1980s with WCRS’ legendary ‘Bet He drinks Carling Black Label’ campaign. Apparently they first came up with line in an unsuccessful pitch for the Milk Marketing Board, or whatever it was called then.

Now that’s what I call advertising. Will Havas have the nerve to try something similar?

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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