Life story

OB brings real story to ads to appease customers

Cass, the leading national beer brand made by Oriental Brewery (OB)

Oriental Brewery (OB), Korea’s largest brewer, won the grand prize at the 2021 Korea Brand Awards for its marketing strategy that added sentimental elements to appease customers affected by the pandemic. The award, overseen by the Korea Marketing Association, recognizes companies that put “consumer value” at the forefront of brand management.

Key to OB’s marketing strategy was to “click with” consumers, the beer maker pointed out. While beer ads have traditionally emphasized superficial qualities like “freshness,” OB dug deeper by portraying its Cass brand as a source of healing for discouraged souls struggling with the pandemic.

TV commercial for Cass,

TV commercial for Cass, “Time to be real” (above) and “An amazing summer with beer” (OB)

For example, the “Time to be real” television commercial, which features a renewed Cass, tells of the struggles of finding a job and juggling friendships, a topic that appeals to many young people.

The brewing giant also led the SSAC Tour, a campaign to support small businesses struggling with the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. By posting real-life stories of struggling retailers on Cass’s official Instagram account, the company promoted those restaurants and, in turn, OB herself.

Providing a rich customer experience is another element that underpins the success of OB marketing. As people increasingly seek an experience beyond the product itself, OB has worked to diversify its consumer touchpoint.

Frites Artois, a pop-up restaurant run by Stella Artois in Itaewon, Seoul (OB)

Frites Artois, a pop-up restaurant run by Stella Artois in Itaewon, Seoul (OB)

One example is “Frites Artois”, a pop-up restaurant launched in Itaewon last October. Visitors could enjoy Stella Artois beer with Belgian fries, an added touch that spruces up an otherwise typical beer-drinking evening. The company has also launched a project that combines Hanmac, a rice-based lager developed to satisfy the Korean palate, with Korean dishes to provide an elevated gastronomic experience.

“Our experience-based connection-focused marketing strategy allows customers to immerse themselves in the brand itself.” said an OB official.

Staying on top of the latest trends is the final, but rudimentary foundation of OB’s marketing strategy.

The company appealed to Millennials and Generation Z, who tend to value brand transparency, by replacing traditional dark beer bottles with clear glass bottles last March.

The casting of fashionable personalities like actress Youn Yuh-jung for All New Cass and the winning team of the popular TV show “Street Women Fighters” for Budweiser illustrates how OB has stayed one step ahead and embraced the changing consumer landscape.

A recent Nielsen Korea survey found Cass to be the number one beer brand for those who drank alone at home. OB has been shown to hold a whopping 52.7% share of the domestic beer market, with four of its beer brands – Cass Fresh, Cass Light, Budweiser and Hoegaarden – ranked in the top ten.

By Ahn Ju-hee ([email protected])

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