“He once cheated death, and death was perfectly OK with it.”
That clever legend line from Dos Equis’ latest spot, “Airboat,” may tickle the funny bone like countless others before it from the iconic “Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign, but it was delivered with a fresh twist. Stepping into the role of the “man,” long played by septuagenarian actor Jonathan Goldsmith, was 41-year-old Frenchman Augustin Legrand. Though the new character choice raised some eyebrows, Dos Equis deemed the change necessary to evolve the campaign story line and attract younger consumers.
“The decision to change the actor was, of course, based on extensive research,” says Andrew Katz, VP of marketing for Dos Equis, a Heineken USA beer brand. “We found that 84% of men think what is interesting today is different from what was interesting a decade ago. This insight, along with key shifts in the marketplace, made us realize that a more modern character and active campaign vignettes for today’s Dos Equis drinker were needed. Fans can expect to see a more resourceful Most Interesting Man, with a focus on living in the present.”
Katz, a featured speaker at the ANA Brand Activation Conference, April 19 - 21 in Chicago, talks more about the campaign, Dos Equis’ sponsorship of the College Football Playoff, inspiring brand influencers, and the use of humor.
Q. You have said that it’s the campaign framework, not the actor, that people love. What particular elements of that framework do you most contribute to the campaign’s successful run?
A. Similar to James Bond or Batman, the Most Interesting Man character has always been greater than the actor who portrays him, and the adventures that define his legend will continue. Through the legend lines and vignettes, we create stories that are aspirational, yet relatable, to today’s drinker, with the intelligent humor that fans expect from Dos Equis.
We know we’ve succeeded when our content is shared. The phrase “I don’t always drink beer. But when I do, I prefer Dos Equis” launched a viral internet meme, and we constantly see people share it with the lines that relate to their life. One of my favorite says, “He gave his father ‘The Talk.’” Dos Equis’ creativity has made people’s lives more exciting, more clever, and thus, more relevant.
Q. Last year, Dos Equis became the first beer sponsor of the College Football Playoff (CFP). Talk about the thinking behind that decision. What did you learn from the sponsorship that will serve the brand well moving forward?
A. Dos Equis’ annual sales are disproportionately aligned to markets with heavy college football followings, making the CFP sponsorship extremely strategic for the brand and further establishing Dos Equis’ standing in sports. In addition, both Dos Equis and college football have seen tremendous growth over the past decade. According to recent a Business Insider article, over the past 10 years, college football has consistently maintained its place as the third most popular sport to watch (11%), behind baseball (14%) and pro football (35%).
There were some specific wins for the CFP and Dos Equis in the first year of the sponsorship:
Also, through our partnership with ESPN, we integrated their visual effects (VFX) technology into our CFP-themed TV commercial during the live games. Dos Equis is the first beer brand to use this groundbreaking technology, and we found great success aligning with ESPN.
Q. How are you bringing new fans into the franchise through your shopper marketing efforts?
A. For the College Football Playoff, we engaged new fans by deploying an on- and off-premise sampling program that drove trial with 25,000 shoppers and customers across the country. We saw that those who sampled Dos Equis and spoke with brand ambassadors continued to purchase Dos Equis on a more consistent basis.
We provided distributors and retailers with customized local market point-of-sale items connecting in-market fans and their favorite teams to Dos Equis. Nearly 1,000 unique pieces of printed collateral enticed drinkers throughout the season with humorous signage, table tents, coasters, and more. And through mobile engagement, we targeted CFP fans with a sweepstakes to win tickets to the national championship, which received 1.1 million entries — the most successful mobile program in Heineken USA’s history.
Q. Over the past decade, Dos Equis has built a large following in the social space. How are you inspiring these consumers to become brand influencers?
A. Being the arbiter of interesting, Dos Equis is uniquely positioned to lead our target in the pursuit of interesting experiences and adventures. For us, “Stay Thirsty” isn’t just a tagline, it’s a mindset we embrace daily to connect with our guy. From extending the brand’s digital presence through our partnership with Snapchat to providing our fans with unique experiences like Oculus Rift VR (the first for any beer brand), we’re always encouraging our guy to live like the Most Interesting Man.
Also, by providing engaging content, our enthusiasts are inspired to share their own passions with their friends. Dos Equis was the first beer brand globally to reach one million likes on Facebook, and today, we’re nearing four million.
Q. While humor is a staple of beer advertising, it can be a hit-or-miss proposition. How do you and your agency partners ensure laughs lead to sales?
A. Humor is extremely important — a key pillar of the campaign’s success. It directly correlates to our target’s perception of being interesting, and through creative storytelling, vignettes, and hundreds of legend lines, we continue to inspire our guy to build his legend. We respect the intelligence of our audience and we create legend lines and experiences that inspire them to live a more interesting life. These lines are comically exaggerated and are often nonsensical, which leads to consumer engagement with the brand.
Unlike any other brand, our ads even sign off with “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis,”to let our fans know that there is more out there to explore. Because of this humorous advertising and the high quality of our lager and amber beers, our sales continue to grow.