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Kopparberg kick starts a summer of experiential as it launches lager to offset 'maturing' cider market

Swedish brewer Kopparberg has activated its first lager product in the most Shoreditch way possible: through the medium of street art.

Known primarily for its fruity ciders, the company enlisted artist Will Vibes to create a one-day anamorphic street art experience in east London's Boxpark. A seemingly abstract design was painted around a giant bottle of the new 330ml fruity beer; when reflected in the installation's mirror, the painting appeared no longer distorted.

The experience, which also doubled as a trial and sampling exercise for the brand, was the first in a season of below-the-line activations. A touring revival of the Kopparberg Urban Forest music festival and a collaboration with music events group Sofar Sounds are also on the cards, designed to promote both the lager and flagship cider drinks.

"We’re very closely associated with cider," Jodie Alliss, senior marketing manager at Kopparberg, told The Drum. "With Fruit Lager being so new we wanted to do something for consumers that challenges the familiar to them, and challenges their perspective of what they’re seeing, just like Fruit Lager is doing for Kopparberg in the market."

The idea of a light beer may have been in the works for a "few years" at Kopparberg HQ, yet this summer was the ideal time to launch. According to Alliss, the brand has noted that "the cider category has started to mature", and its horizontal expansion aims to capitalise on British drinking habits.

"We wanted to launch something that could extend the drinking occasion: from [our cider] being the first couple of drinks in the evening or daytime drinking into the evening," the marketer explained.

"We think fruit lager can do that - being a smaller serve in a 330ml bottle - and really compete in that arena. Consumers are looking for a more refreshing, tasty product, especially the younger millennial consumers that want something fruit based."

Alongside the event, a launch programme of press, social media, digital and outdoor has been planned around Kopparberg's hero season of summer, as part of a wider multi-million pound main brand campaign. Its Urban Forest event has also evolved into a touring festival activation for 2016.

Alliss explained: "We’ll have the same bar and a stage that we’ll be programming ourselves with great, upcoming acts. We’ve had so much success with the Urban Forest and we’ve had a lot of engagement, but it’s been limited to London - we wanted more people to get involved."

While Urban Forest is arguably one of a handful of brand-led music experiences to attract real cultural buzz, music-focused alcohol brand campaigns are now no longer original. Jack Daniel's announced plans to target the hip-hop crowds earlier this year, while Heineken kicked off a new global campaign named #LiveYourMusic in April.

How does Kopparberg stand up against these similar – and often better-funded - campaigns?

"If you look at the history of us as a company we’ve always done things differently," said Alliss. "With a lot of our product launches we like to be first to market, so that’s really important when we look at the partnerships and the kind of activations that we do.

"We really want to immerse ourselves in social culture in a way that has strong engagement and creates connections with our consumers, rather than spending all of our money on pure above-the-line advertising."

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