2017 Winners

Bitter

Farnham Ale & Lager

Bronze Agency of the Year: lg2

The Challenge

Farnham Ale & Lager needed to grab its share of a crowded market. Two major forces occupy the Québec beer market. On one side, the giants of the industry, such as Labatt and Molson, shore up their market share with mass-market advertising and promotions with a sporty or festive twist. On the other, a raft of microbrews is gaining ground with an increasingly refined set of food-focused consumers by appealing to a wide range of allegorical worlds. In all this, Farnham Ale & Lager has since 2013 been offering the best of both worlds – the taste and personality of craft beer at an affordable price. It needed to stake out its own territory, which called for a new advertising approach.

The Insight

Bitter is beautiful. The IPA’s degree of bitterness is where all Farnham Ale & Lager beers begin. The operation really is all about the beer and that beer’s soul. Bitterness is the signature quality of craft beer taste – it’s the way to win the hearts of a deep pool of consumers drawn to the taste experience and sensual pleasure of what they drink.

But bitterness had never been capitalized on by other beer brands. Agency Lg2 thought this would be a perfect way for Farnham Ale & Lager to break loose from the pack, to go beyond the usual variations on sports, parties and allegory and bring a new message.

The idea of bitter as beautiful proved a powerful springboard for a fresh new disruptive advertising message that would really get noticed.

The Plan

The plan was to use bitter slices of life to bring out the bitterness of Farnham Ale & Lager beer.

The campaign had a limited budget. The solution was to combine media and go with a style high on immediate impact and potential resonance, always with bitterness in its heart. The team created two 30-second TV spots, the first featuring a bride jilted at the altar and the second an officer worker whose expected promotion went to a colleague instead. The print channel included illustrations playing on the varying degrees of bitterness of the brand’s beers and an original promotion in which a newspaper clipping of bitter news could be exchanged for a free Farnham Ale & Lager beer. Meanwhile, an online viral video purportedly showed hops that were being encouraged to grow bitter by playing discordant sounds in the fields as they grew.

The Results

-Farnham Ale & Lager beers are now everywhere in the province of Québec, from specialty outlets to the major supermarket chains.
-Sales rose by 52% over the fiscal year.
-Annual production hit 10,000 hectolitres after only three years of operation – a level comparable to Quebec’s other big microbreweries with many more years in business.
-Farnham Ale & Lager is now the only Québec microbrewery with a branch in the United States (in South Burlington, Vermont).
-Farnham Ale & Lager is now a name to be reckoned with, with unassailable positioning based on bitterness buttressed by adroit campaigns that set it strongly apart in a highly competitive market.