Do you pass “the Stella test”?

The third post with a story from the Where’s the Sausage? book, that launches next Monday.

When we do a brand vision project, we ask the team for a min. 10-15 year historical reel of communication, to see where the brand has come from. Its amazing and rather shocking how few teams can produce this. This is what happens in the WTS? book as well. When the hero Bob asks for the history, the brand manager says she has a year’s worth, which as long as she has been on the brand. Beyond that…uhhhh?

One negative side effect of this dereliction of brand duty is that most brands’ communication zig zags all over the place over the years, as each new marketing director arrives. As the heritage of the brand is not respected and revered, the previous campaign can be trashed, and a new one created.

One of the rare exceptions is the wonderful Stella Artois campaign from the UK. The communication idea stayed the same for 20 years or so: "You’d give anything for a Stella Artois". It was based on a simple but effective brand idea of Stella being "A beer of supreme value and worth". Key elements of the communication were maintained (the music, endline, spoken in French, "cinematic" production values). But the stories were changed and updated, each one a mini masterpiece.

And most importantly of all, admiring these ads is not just awarding Stella 1st prize in a "brand communication beauty contest" (this winds me up no end, when people in workshops see an advert and say "that’s great" without any knowledge of whether it has grown the business). No, this campaign was a key part of boosting the brand’s sales from 500 000 cases in 1988 to over 2 million in 1999.

You can read more about the Stella story in this superb case study from the Advertising Effectiveness Awards Download Stella_Artois_Entry.pdf

And now for the ads. Here’s the first one. And just remember that most beer ads at the time had 3 blokes in a bar with a busty beer-maid.

Pure magic. A product story told with love, care and panache. Just check out the look on the guy’s face when he sees the other bloke drinking a Stella (product desire)…and the lip-licking satsifaction when he takes the first gulp when he gets his pint (product satisfaction).

Then, we wind on 10 years or so to another ad. This time a bit darker, but still the same idea.

So, if you dare. Do your own 10-15 year reel… and then do the Stella test on it….