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Kronenbourg 1664: increasing top of mind awareness through programmatic display advertising

Kronenbourg 1664: increasing top of mind awareness through programmatic display advertising

Spark Foundry, formerly Mediavest, won the award for 'Best Programmatic Strategy' at The Drum Marketing Awards 2017 for its work with Kronenbourg. Here, the agency explains the strategy used to make this an award-winning campaign.

Executive Summary

For the last five years, Stella has been the Goliath of the UK lager (and beer) market. Kronenbourg 1664 needed to combat its advance. We had to be the David to the Goliath that is Stella.

The business challenge Kronenbourg 1664 faced was being the second favourite. Prompted awareness was high, spontaneous awareness was decent, but top-of-mind awareness was low. Not enough people thought of us first in store. Client research uncovered that lager drinkers typically have a repertoire of at least nine different brands they choose from. We needed not only to be seen as a prestigious beer, but to also be the first beer that comes to mind and to convert this preference to the action of purchase.

Against the sweeping strength of Stella Artois with its gargantuan budget, we had to be more strategic with small, agile and precise tactics to cut through the clutter. To do this, we chose tools that could sharpen our aim and bring together context, message and audience for a more impactful delivery of our brand messages – using the accuracy of programmatic across digital display.


Our key communications objectives were to ‘stand out’ and ‘stand for something’ in the minds of our 35-49 year old male audience. While our key competitors of the premium beer category position themselves within the realms of glamour, aspiration and luxury, our target audience are more interested in what is happening in the real world. They pay particular attention to news and current affairs, and are keen to discuss politics, news, sports, etc. So the opportunity to stand out in the market was to join those topical conversations and showcase the distinctive Kronenbourg 1664 take on what is going on.

We had the right foundations to do this: for the last three years, Kronenbourg invited Britain to Vive l’Alsace Différence, establishing a tone of voice that embodied authentic quality, with a Gallic wink. Against our pretentious Continental competitors, such as Stella and Peroni, we built a very unserious and hyperbolic, semi-mythical brand world of Alsace where taste was everything, using legend Eric Cantona to embody the difference with a witty and tasty take on life.

In May 2016, we launched our latest hero TVC, featuring the 'Alsace-tian' dogs of Alsace who bring barrels of Kronenbourg 1664 to the deserving. But integral to the 2016 campaign was applying the Kronenbourg 1664 point of view on everything to stay front of mind and drive relevance. And our weapon of choice to accurately aim the right message at the right person (our slingshot if you will): programmatic digital display. Our approach considered three elements to ensure success: precision, agility and action.

Beyond our launch activity, we had to build an emotional connection in order to drive brand preference. To do this we aligned our targeting and context, moving away from traditional demographic targeting and towards more emotive passion point targeting, focussing on big sporting events on 2016. We worked closely with Lotame (who have the largest reach of third party data providers in the UK) to create custom segments based on a combination of 1st party (website/CRM) data and audience passion points identified in TGI.

We turned to MediaVest’s internal Dynamic Creative team (DOT) to create up-to-the-minute hyper relevant creative in relation to the news stories and topics our target audience were reading. We worked closely with the creative agency and the brand team to ensure all creative was in keeping with the Kronenbourg 1664 tone of voice. This was activated within a custom built API that allowed for both manual and automatic bid strategy optimisation, based on the events of each day. To ensure our ads were in contextually relevant environments, we targeted beyond the default category targeting and employed specific keyword targeting, in premium whitelist environments, using publisher second party data and third party technology to ensure the creative was in the right place at the right time to the right consumer.

For example, around Wimbledon articles and videos, we served delightful videos showing the Alsace-tian canines’ ability to deliver a taste supreme, but not tennis balls. Whilst around Olympics news, we called out the winners as deserving of Kronenbourg 1664’s Taste Supreme.

Buying inventory programmatically in this way allowed us stand out in the market and be more relevant to our audiences’ interests, whilst maximising our cost-efficiencies. This, in turn, enabled us to run the campaign for a longer duration than if we were to buy directly.

Building on the top-of-mind awareness generated throughout the launch and the always-on reactive phases, we activated a footfall-driving mobile campaign in support of Kronenbourg 1664 on-pack offers in Tesco and Sainsbury’s. This phase of the campaign built out our audiences through profiling key locations that are relevant them, and then serving expandable mobile banner ads on a whitelist of premium sites in-proximity to target stores. Our audience were served a Kronenbourg 1664 offer-focused message, with an expandable dynamic map encouraging them to visit their local store, within 3000 metres. We were then able to track these users’ geolocation, and measure the footfall uplift seen in each store as a result of our media activity.


Against the broad brushstrokes of a giant with big budgets, our focused programmatic activity resonated, delivering strong positive gains for both brand consideration and purchase intent, whilst also reducing these measures of our Goliath Stella. Targeting subgroups and matching their passion points with contextual messaging instantly drove relevance, with higher equity scores and higher approval scores amongst those exposed. But most importantly, we converted relevance into action: a colossal 42% increase in footfall to Sainsbury’s stores and an impressive +19% increase in footfall to Tesco stores for exposed versus unexposed which helped smashed our sales target.

By September we beat our sales target by 40%. An agile, precise and tactical focus was critical to Kronenbourg 1664’s David-esque victory .

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