Carling ‘Made Local’: Nice ads, shame about the taste

carlingRemember the days when Carling – or Carling Black Label as it was back in the day – was the lager of choice for British boozers? Its advertising was pretty popular, too, from the German goalkeeper in the Dambusters ad to Len “Ball Crusher” Ganley in the snooker championships spot, “I bet he drinks Carling Black Label” became something of a national catchphrase.

So, perhaps unsurprisingly Molson Coors would love those times to return and in an effort to do so has launched its first major marketing campaign for the brand since 2019.

Devised by Havas London, the game has changed, with the activity aimed at moving on the ‘Made Local’ positioning, launched three years ago, to shift from the power of community to the power of friendship.

“We’re Made by Our Mates,” is designed to playfully celebrate those little moments that make great friendships – and the fundamental importance those friendships hold for all of us.

While the original 2019 campaign shone a light on the neighbourhoods, communities and initiatives that make society what it is, this new execution champions the relationships that make us who we are.

These are brought to life through a number of character-driven ads that show real friendship. The first spot shows a group of friends watching a deadlocked game of football, when one of them decides to go and wash his hands as a “lucky omen” in an attempt to get his team to score. As he is in the bathroom his mates pretend he has done the trick and cheer wildly at the TV. He returns to the front-room to join in their celebrations only to discover they were just kidding. As the realisation kicks in, his annoyance turns to amusement as the strapline appears “We’re Made by Our Mates”.

The ads will air alongside sports (including Sky Pubs) and other high-reach TV programming throughout the rest of the year. The campaign will be boosted by VOD and programmatic video, as well as live activity around Sky Sports content on Twitter and the targeting of engaged sports fans across Reddit.

Carling brand director Lee Willett said: “The strength of Made Local has always been in its genuine, authentic portrayals of the diverse lives of real drinkers up and down the country – but much has changed since we introduced the platform in 2019.

“And while we connect to the places that made us and what we did there, we connect because of the people who make those places. It’s that familiar, everyday, yet universal sense of community – and the friendships that underpin it – we set out to celebrate in this campaign.”

Havas London chief creative officer Vicki Maguire added: “There are few brands that boast such a unique place within British culture as Carling. And at the heart of that culture are the shared experiences we live with our mates.

“They are the bonds that shape us and make us. We wanted to capture what those friendships really look like – which, in the UK, often means good-natured humour underpinned by genuine affection. We’ll all recognise these moments, because we live them up and down the country every day.”

So, what is the consensus around the Decision Marketing office?

Well, we have to admit we haven’t even sniffed let alone downed a pint of Carling for years; apparently it is actually more like 3.7% ABV than the 4% ABV which it is advertised at, too, so Molson Coors can pay less tax to HMRC. It’s not just about how many pints it would take to get pissed though; sadly it has little flavour either, compared to the seemingly endless choice of other lagers and ales.

Still, we do like the ads.

Decision Marketing Adometer: A ‘back of the net’ 8 out of 10 

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