Amplify your product truth: Castle Lite

Screen Shot 2012-05-25 at 06.46.39Using your core product to create distinctiveness is a great way of increasing penetration to drive growth. The trick is to 'bake' the brand story into the product, and then amplify this across the whole mix. A great example of this is the Castle Lite brand in South Africa, which has employed this approach to drive several years of double-digit volume growth.

The Castle Lite story brilliantly illustrates the idea of distinctiveness being more important than differentiation. One of the key benefits of beer is refreshment. If, like me, you’re a beer fan, nothing hits the spot like a nice cold beer. But surely this is a generic benefit and so not an interesting territory to play in? In fact, it’s a great place to play, if you can do what Julian Coulter and the Castle Lite team did, and come up with a distinctive way of bringing this benefit to life.

The brand’s idea was to sell not just any type of refreshment, but rather ‘ice cold’ refreshment. Now, even this idea could provoke a response of ‘Ice cold. Any brand could do that!’ And in theory, any brand could. However, Castle Lite executed brilliantly and at speed to create the memory structure linked to this idea, effectively taking this position and making it hard for another brand to copy it. The key to the success of Castle Lite is the way the ice cold refreshment product idea has been amplified across the whole marketing mix.


To deliver the ice cold refreshment benefit, Castle Lite leveraged the incredible distribution system that brand owner SAB Miller has in South Africa. Hundreds of sales guys still visit individual taverns and pubs, and work on in-trade display and product presentation. This allowed Castle Lite to introduce Ice Cold Fridges into outlets. This ensured the product was served ice cold to deliver maximum refreshment. It has an additional and very important benefit of dramatically improving the in-trade visibility of the brand.


A clever bit of creative magic is the next part of the Castle Lite success story. TV advertising was used to amplify the ice cold refreshment idea. Importantly, this communication brought to life the ice cold fridge as a distinctive visual property. It featured a poor bar man struggling to hold the Castle Lite beer as it was ice cold, throwing it backwards and forwards from hand to hand. The ad used a retro music track, ‘Can’t touch this’, from MC Hammer who even appeared at the end of the ad. The beauty of this commercial, which you can watch here, is telling a simple product story in a highly entertaining and memorable way.

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The ice cold refreshment idea was also brought to life on the bottle, with a ‘snow flake’ device. This additional brand property was used to indicate when the beer was ice cold, tuning blue when the bottle is cooled to -4 degrees.


Finally, the brand’s activation is aligned to bring to life and amplify the ice cold refreshment. For the off-trade outlets, such as bottle shops, uses promotions which are appealing to both customers and consumers and further bring to life the product truth, such as patio coolers (this is South Africa remember!), mini fridges and ice boxes. And the brand ran a contest where people win a trip to, you guessed it, the world’s biggest ice bar.

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In conclusion, Castle Lite is a great example of baking your brand story into your product, and then creating distinctive brand properties that you amplify across the whole mix.