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Authenticity in branding goes a long way

Carlsberg used to run its ad campaigns (TV commercials, radio, etc) with a tagline "probably the best beer in the world", and it was so successful that they kept it on tap from 1973 to 2011.

By 2014, it held as much as a lion's share of 40% of the Russian beer market and on a global level, produced 6% of the world's beer, making it the fourth largest beer production company, just behind Heineken, SABMiller and Anheuser-Busch InBev.


The success of the Carlsberg campaign came from a repeated tagline that held no real refutable evidence by the use of a single word "probably". Taste is a subjective matter as much as beauty being in the eyes of the beholder. As such, it was in the clear when it came to advertising claims.

It was the repetition of the line made it stand out from the competition. What was perhaps at play was the availability cascade bias that takes root when something is constantly repeated. The greater the frequency a statement is being repeated, the greater its likelihood of being accepted as gospel truth.

It then changed the ad tagline to "that calls for a Carlsberg" from 2011- 2018. The tagline did not catch as much traction as its previous one and because the the management realised that it had diluted brand equity by chasing after production numbers and compromised on brand value, a rebranding exercise took place along with a refocusing of its overall strategy.

In 2019, Carlsberg overturned the original tagline from "probably the best beer in the world" to "probably not the best beer in the world", in an acknowledgement that it had lost its brand focus in the aggressive bid to expand its market share. This move gave it brand leverage and was noted by media to have earned "the attention from customers who placed a premium on authenticity (

Internally, Carlsberg pivoted towards flavour and options that gave drinkers choices beyond the usual. By gravitating towards craft-style alcohol and other thoughtful brews, the rebranding resonated with both loyal customers as well as new ones.

In an industry with sometimes cut-throat margins and flaky brand loyalty, the commitment to being authentic with a renewed focus on quality became a refreshing touch to a fatigued audience that has probably seen the "same-old-same-old" advertising strategies being deployed to capture their attention.


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