Red Stripe recently launched what I call its ‘BEAR’ marketing campaign, which started out with teaser ads online, in the press and on television. The teaser ads featured bear paw marks and scratches on newspaper pages, television ads and even as part of the set decoration on the popular weekly local television program, ER. Interestingly, one popular local marketer implied on Twitter that there was no ‘teasing’, because “signs/stalls at the food stop o/side m’ville been deckd out wt claws etc..screamin Red Stripe“.
There was also a staged/fake robbery at the Red Stripe plant (see YouTube video below), an apparent attempt to get the campaign to go viral from the get-go, but based on the number of views of the videos on YouTube and pictures on Twitter-picture sharing sites, it didn’t seem to gain much traction. No traction? Yes, no traction … between the 10th of August (the day the ‘robbery’ happened) and the 12th of August, there were only 13 mentions of the Red Stripe ‘robbery’ on Twitter. The ‘News Footage’ from the robbery was posted by Rockwildaz on YouTube on August 12, and has accumulated only 1656 views (as of right now) since then. All the teaser videos on Red Stripe’s special YouTube page for this campaign – youtube.com/user/JamaicanBeer – have less than 400 views each (as of right now). Compare that to the ‘Nobody Canna Cross It’ remix video which shot past 100,000 views in its first few days (p.s. it’s now at 1.7 million views).
The teasers were replaced this week by a new TV ad called “Mission ImPAWSible” (see below) which shows a S.W.A.T. team trying to apprehend a bear that has broken into the Red Stripe plant, and this TV ad along with new newspaper, Facebook and Google ads prompt persons to visit facebook.com/JamaicanBeer to see how this story unfolds, and “discover where the trail ends”.
I must commend Red Stripe on how elaborate this campaign has been, we’re all waiting to see how it ends. I’m very happy also about the key role that the Internet has played in this campaign, because I’m hopeful that this will help to prompt other local marketers to start putting a more serious chunk of their advertising budget toward Internet.
My problem with Red Stripe’s BEAR campaign is mainly about the concept. Yes, they’re doing a play on words, but there are no ‘bears’ in Jamaica, so that makes it seem a bit ridiculous [it’s possible though, that this was in fact their intention], and they also incorporate other non-Jamaican elements (such as the S.W.A.T. team). Red Stripe is ‘our beer’, a global Jamaican brand, but there’s nothing ‘Jamaican’ about this BEAR campaign, and I don’t think there’s anything about it that’s going to make the tens of thousands of beer drinkers who switched to Magnum and other beverages switch back to Red Stripe.
In my opinion, what they really need to be doing is reconnecting with the music-loving audience in Jamaica, the same audience that they said goodbye to back in 2008 when they made the decision to stop sponsoring live music events in Jamaica (because of negative and worrying trends in Jamaican music). It was around that time, that Magnum et al seized the moment, becoming more prominent and naturally, started biting into Red Stripe’s market share. Red Stripe apparently realized the folly of this move, and started sponsoring live local music events again last year, but is it too little too late?
Add to that, the fact that recent market surveys reportedly show that young people (a core target market for alcoholic beverage companies) in Jamaica view beer as a drink for older adults (like their fathers and uncles). Apparently it’s not ‘cool’ to drink beer in Jamaica these days, so do you think that this BEAR will help to make it ‘cool’ to drink beer again?