MEDIA: STRATEGY OF THE WEEK - PILSNER URQUELL

The 161-year-old beer brand is taking a very precise aim. Rebecca Beer investigates.

The Pilsner Urquell brand has been around for a while - 161 years, to be precise. But it lacks the UK presence of the rival Czech beers Budvar and Staropramen.

To address this, it is relaunching the beer in the UK via the lives of London's uber-cool.

The campaign will target 25- to 34-year-old men who are discerning beer drinkers. The activity will reinforce the brand's quality credentials by reminding consumers that it was the world's first pilsner.

According to Rob Burleigh, the creative director of Leagas Delaney, the brand's creative agency: "The idea is to target opinion formers and create an epidemic in strategic locations."

Leagas developed a strategy that makes the most of a limited budget.

The owner of the lager brand, South African Breweries (SABMiller), allocated £2 million of a £30 million global budget to the London-based activity.

The activity, which kicked off in July, will focus on the areas in London where high numbers of target consumers tend to go out drinking.

The four main "incubator zones" - Soho, Shoreditch, Clerkenwell and Notting Hill - were chosen for their high concentration of independent bars as opposed to theme or chain pubs. Local events, cinema spots, tube posters, fly posters and outdoor will appear in and around the incubator zones.

Tube cards and posters, created through Leagas Delaney and focusing on the beer's status as "The original source of pilsner", have been placed at stations and on trains to reach consumers as they make their way to the incubator zones.

Leagas and the events company Capitalize got together to plan themed events. The events have been designed to reflect the character of the areas where they will take place and generate local goodwill towards the brand, as well as to provide a focus for the campaign.

"Our aim was to create something of the area, not just in the area. The events have been designed partly as a marketing exercise but also as something to support the area rather than just using it for its coolness," Mark Gent, a senior strategist at Unity, which planned the media, says.

The events will take place over four consecutive weekends ending in early September.

The Soho events will take the form of DJ play-offs, involving an estimated 90 per cent of the independent record shops in the area.

Local pubs have been approached to host the events, with the pay-off of generating traffic for themselves.

Another event, in Hoxton in the heart of Shoreditch, will provide a showcase for local talent. "This event will have more of an artistic theme. We are working with local bars to display the paintings, photographs and literary works of local artists, to celebrate the talent and ethnic component of the area," Gent says.

The final one-day event, also in Shoreditch, involves martial-arts displays and other performing artists, with a band headlining in the evening.

The UK relaunch follows a successful push across Europe, using a TV spot called "burglar", which is being integrated into the UK campaign through advertising at art house and independent cinemas in the incubator zones.

Lenticular posters in gold frames will be posted in strategic locations within each zone. These use three images: a picture of cloudy, dark traditional ale; a clear golden glass of Pilsner Urquell and a product shot. After the first two weeks, the lenticular posters will be replaced with regular posters.

Although it is far from new in the UK, the lager has a small distribution and is only available in bottles. To address this, the distribution company Ubevco was brought in on the project very early on.

The media buying for the work was through Mediaedge:cia and the ambient media was planned through Cunning Stunts.

If the London campaign proves to be a success, money will be allocated to a roll-out across other major UK cities.