A view from Dave Trott

A view from Dave Trott: Fear-free marketing

Peter Bronsman was working as a deckhand on a Swedish freighter.

Around midnight he went to throw a sack of garbage over the side of the ship.

As he threw it he tripped and broke his wrist – but worse, he fell overboard.

Now he was in the Pacific Ocean with a broken wrist.

It was pitch black and the ship was disappearing at 16 knots.

His first fear was drowning – he wasn’t wearing a lifejacket and with a broken wrist he couldn’t swim.

But then he saw a dark shape, a fin, coming towards him.

And he knew he’d either be eaten by a shark or drown.

Either way, in that second he realised he’d wasted his life.

He always told himself one day he was going to start a company and build something big.

He just never got around to it, and now it was too late.

But in another few seconds everything changed again.

The shape wasn’t a shark’s fin, it was the bag of garbage he’d thrown overboard.

He could cling on to it to stay afloat.

Meanwhile, one of the crew had seen him go overboard.

Eventually, the ship turned and several hours later they found him at night in the middle of the ocean.

At that point he decided not to waste his life.

He’d been travelling the world trying every beer there was.

He went back to Sweden and began importing the beers he loved.

The company was so successful he opened his own brewery.

He bought a disused mineral water bottling plant, and began making lager and cider.

But he noticed traditional cider was too boring for young people.

He spotted a gap in the market for a fruitier, sweeter cider marketed to young people.

The trouble was how to launch it in Sweden, where alcohol advertising is banned.

Then he thought: where do most young people drink alcohol?

Answer: when they party.

So where do most young Swedes go to party?

Answer: every summer they go to the Mediterranean.

So that’s where he spent all his advertising money: Ibiza, Greece, Majorca.

Where young Swedes would see it when they were partying.

And while partying, they’d be drinking his cider.

Which meant that when young Swedes got home, they knew all about his sweeter, fruitier ciders.

Even though alcohol advertising was banned in Sweden.

And that’s how Peter Bronsman launched a cider brand in Sweden without any advertising.

The cider is called Kopparberg and it’s so successful it’s on sale in 50 countries.

Like Peter Bronsman’s marketing, the flavours are non-traditional: Naked Apple, Toffee Apple, Kiwi Fruit, Blackcurrant & Raspberry, Strawberry & Lime, Elderflower & Lime, Cranberry & Cinnamon.

Last year, Kopparberg sold 75 million litres: £225m revenue.

Peter Bronsman broke the rules for making cider and the rules for advertising.

He went against all accepted marketing wisdom.

He says he did it because he learned a valuable lesson that night alone in the ocean.

He learned, outside of dying, there’s nothing to be afraid of.

Dave Trott is the author of Creative Mischief, Predatory Thinking and One Plus One Equals Three