Review: ‘That Calls for a Carlsberg’

The problem with global campaigns is they are not always as global as you think they can be. A great idea can, and will, run round the world several times, but it’s the nuances that can trip it up when it puts its feet down a long way from home.
A classic example of this is Carlsberg’s recent viral social experiment ‘Here’s To Those Who Step Up And Do The Right Thing’ out of Hong Kong – which is an extension of the “That Calls For A Carlsberg” idea that rewards people for every day heroism with a Carlsberg.
This was executed brilliantly in Belgium where couples going to a cinema discovered the theatre full of hairy arsed bikers. Most walked straight out again but those brave enough to take their seats got a huge cheer and a Carlsberg. Brilliant idea, brilliantly executed – at every level, down to the detail that a beer fits into a night out. If you haven’t seen it go to YouTube and join the 11.6 million who have.
Fast forward a few months and a few thousand miles and the same basic idea lands in Hong Kong but executed somewhat differently. Here we see a ‘weak young girl’ forced to push a trolley full of Carlsberg up the city’s notoriously steep streets. The gag being that anyone ‘heroic’ enough to help her will be rewarded with a Carlsberg. So in principle very similar to Bikers In Belgium, but clearly lacking in the tension, spectacle and eye-candy that is required to make any film go viral.
A cinema full of bikers is an impressive sight; a girl pushing a shopping trolley is, well just a girl pushing a shopping trolley. And we watch as she pushes and waits for her white knight, except for a long time nothing happens, just people walking by – and to be honest it’s a bit boring.
Then, finally, a dad type (hardly your cool urbanista) comes and helps give her trolley a push – and suddenly they are pounced upon by hidden brand ambassadors who shove an open bottle of Carlsberg into his hand. And this is where the detail thing really stands out.
Sitting in a cinema, having a beer on a night out feels right. Being ambushed in the street, mid-morning and forced to drink beer just doesn’t. So while the money shot in Belgium is on the money, in Hong Kong it is of a middle-aged man looking a bit confused and reluctantly drinking a beer while probably thinking ‘Do I honestly look like the sort of person who needs a morning beer to get me through the day?’ followed by an inevitable slip into self-loathing and a rant against spiders.
To be honest it’s watchable just for that reaction alone – and if you go to YouTube again and you can join the 474 people who have witnessed it. But if you want my opinion watch the Belgium cinema and raise a glass to those who really did step up and do the right thing with an exceptional piece of work.

Magnus Thorne is executive creative director at Pulse Group

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