Why Sol is dialing up the sun in global campaign for casual beer drinkers

Mexican beer Sol has unveiled a new brand positioning called ‘Taste the Sun’ that will embrace the brand's origins and target a new aspirational segment of casual, social beer drinkers.

Speaking to The Drum, Alessandro Manunta, portfolio development manager of Heineken’s international brands said the latest work from JWT revitalizes the “brand’s longstanding connection” with the sun. This realization “was the moment that completely changed our marketing strategy” he said.

Sitting at 4.5% ABV, Sol is being directed at a growing customer base in the market for a lighter lager. While not as low as Bud Light’s 3.5% ABV, it will in many ways tap into the same global trend. Manuta is marketing the beer at what the brand internally calls the sunshine segment.

The "sunshine segment likes an easy-drinking lager that doesn't have a high ABV. They buy bottles that have a sunny and exotic provenance.”

This so-called light lager, he claimed, has globally seen double-digit growth over the last three years. The brand will be positioned to soak up the sales in this space.

Founded in 1899, the Mexican beer was dubbed ‘El Sol’ – literally the sun. It was reportedly lighter than many of the European alternatives spanning the continent. Just recently, MillerCoors signed a 10-year agreement to import the Heineken brand into the US, a further sign of its appeal.

With this new campaign, the campaign had the chance to outline Sol's origins. In many markets, consumers are unaware of its connection to either Mexico or the sun. Manunta realized the campaign was a perfect fit to tell the origin story in a way that sits well with its target market.

To this end, with JWT it conceived a global, mobile-first marketing strategy that hacks its audiences’ social media feeds. Manuta said: “We talked about how people use their phones and social media. We wanted to tap into actions that people do every day in an unexpected way – to create unexpected connections that people could both understand and be surprised by.”

The group wouldn't talk budgets but did emphasize the scale of the work.

The campaign is now live in Colombia, Chile, Australia, South Africa, Brazil and Germany but it will come to life in most of the brand’s major markets in the coming months. Predominantly it will live on digital and out of home, although experiential and TVs will creep into some markets too.

By activating around the sun, the brand has talking points to anchor to all year round. In the northern hemisphere where winter is cropping up, an aspirational, sun-themed beer may serve as a salve to the cold weather In the southern hemisphere, its lead markets in South America for example, summer is reaching its height.

Manunta explained: “The winter launch is a coincidence. With the South American markets approaching summer, on that side will be extremely relevant but on the other side of that coin, those markets where the sun is not out every day is a relevant story to tell. We can play on both worlds. It can be used throughout winter and summer.”

On the wider campaign, he concluded: “When we saw those simple elements, we realised that we have a super strong and rational connection, and asked why don't we really play with this.”

The beer market is in flux, craft beers are cropping up to threaten the stake of the largest brewers. Consumers appear to be opting in for healthier beers too, on the basis of its growing marketshare.

Meanwhile, the wider Heineken brand recently focused on the ‘World’s Most Unmissable Moments’, putting a light-hearted twist on commonly held beliefs.

Heineken: Taste the Sun by JWT

Added 01 November 2018
Agency: JWT
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