Why are Fosters firing Brand & Dan?

Fosters has announced that it is killing off the Brad & Dan characters from its Good Call campaign after five years. The final ad in the series started airing recently, in which the duo of "agony uncles" pack up their beach hut office to marry their girlfriends Dawn and Matilda. 

Is this is a smart move?

From heros to zeros in a matter of months

Ditching the Brad & Dan campaign seems strange to me. It has been incredibly successful, as I posted on here. Indeed, only a few months ago the brand and its agency Adam & Eve DDB were on stage collecting the Grand Prix at The IPA Effectiveness Awards. The campaign achieved the highest estimated ROI of any beer campaign in the awards' 34-year history: £32 in revenue for every £1 of advertising, moving Foster’s from third to first place in the off-trade lager market, as reported here.

Four years of "fresh consistency" helped create some excellent "memory structure" for Brand & Dan. In our IcAT survey (Iconic Asset Tracker) they were shown to be the most effective brand properties in the UK beer market at activating brand recall.

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So, why kill off such a successful campaign?

The reporting of Brad and Dan's demise suggested that this was prompted by a move away from "laddish" advertising that was ‘dismissive’ of women. However, this rationale was denied in the same report by Ifeoma Dozie, brand director at Heineken. Her rationale for the change was that “‘We are looking for a more 'lean-forward' approach. [The target drinker] wants to give life a ‘red hot crack’. It is more about the experiences once you have the right kind of attitude and approach, as opposed to saying ‘no worries’.”

But could this evolution not have been achieved by evolving Brand & Dan, and having a better balance between freshness and consistency? Our research with marketing directors (see below) shows only a minority of changes (24%) are made based on hard data, like our research shown above. It would be interesting to know if Fosters realise just how effective Brand & Dan are.

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The biggest reason for changing properties is a change in organisational structure or team (55%). And I have a sneaking suspicion that the heart on Brad & Dan night be more in this area. First, it looks a new marketing team started working on the brand in August/October 2014, according to Linked In here and here. Second, I think the two actors playing Brad & Dan were signed up in 201 for five years, based on the IPA Effectiveness video on the campaign. So (conspiracy theory alert) perhaps the two actors wanted to re-negotiate the original deal, having seen how successful the campaign had been, and asked for too much?

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What's next? 

"The new ad campaign, which will be unveiled in the coming months, will continue to use the Australian theme and comedy elements and primarily focus on male beer drinkers," according to reports here. “Australia and comedy are at the heart of the brand and will always remain, ” went on to comment the Heineken team. So, there should be at least some consistency in the Fosters' campaign. But time will tell if it can reach the same heights as Brad & Dan. 

In conclusion, given that it takes 2-3 years to create memory structure, think twice before following Fosters' example and changing your brand properties. Consider doing a survey like the IcAT one described here so you will at least have hard data on what you are throwing away.