Close-Up: How cider minnow Kopparberg made a noise

Capturing the spirit of underground music meant getting the fans involved in a hunt for unsigned talent.

Way back in January when the country was digging its way out of the snow, we started working on a little-known Swedish cider brand called Kopparberg.

Since its launch in the UK in 2006, strong word of mouth and endorsement from bar staff had led this brand to gain quite a cult following; from indie rock bars to underground gigs, Kopparberg has quickly become the cider of choice for those in the know. The brand didn't need us to make it cool, it already was.

The challenge, therefore, wasn't to build a world for this brand to live in, it was about showing others a world that already existed: just like the moment you discover a fantastic new band or stumble upon "that" amazing party. It was about people finding Kopparberg for themselves - hence the campaign "Find Kopparberg".

We decided to pursue music as a way to bring this idea to life. Why? Because partnering with the right band can be hugely credible; better still an unsigned band. This was just the right sort of authentic territory for our audience.

So we went on the hunt and took on the gargantuan feat of finding a new band.

In the digital age, it's nigh on impossible to find a half-decent track that hasn't already been released. Uploading to iTunes is as good as being on a shelf in HMV, so it makes finding undiscovered music talent a very hard task.

Eventually, after lots of searching, we found the Welsh band The Joy Formidable. They were unsigned, unknown (except for a small, but loyal, fan base) and brilliant. They were to become the face and sound of our campaign.

So on to logistics. I've witnessed first-hand the wastage in many big commercial shoots, so we went for a different approach. What we realised was that for a commercial, we had only a small budget, but for a music promo, it was actually quite a healthy one.

We scripted a cinema ad that could be cut from the promo, which we planned to make by using the band and their fans. An authentic affair, and one that would give the band something in return. Then we thought that while we were there, we might as well shoot the posters, press and digital content, too.

We approached the acclaimed promo director Dan Wolfe from Partizan, the New York-based rock photographer Colin Lane and the hugely talented street photographer Jonathan Winstone.

All were there to put themselves in the melting pot that was The Notting Hill Arts Club and capture on film what was to be a five-hour gig by The Joy Formidable, all working simultaneously.

For a truly collaborative feel, we even gave the crowd a Super8, two Flips and a few digital cameras just to see what we would get. Everyone these days considers themselves a photographer, so why not?

However, while the event was fantastic at articulating the idea of "Find Kopparberg", it failed to deliver on the real-world promise. Watching people having fun on film isn't quite the same as having fun yourself.

So to give everybody a chance to get in on the action, we're now going to host dozens of what we hope will be incredible underground events and parties organised with the promoters Warehouse Project and Mulletover. We have also teamed up with Vice magazine to launch a series of events called "The Kopparberg Klash" - a competition that seeks to find creative talent, from undiscovered musicians to artists. All of which is being driven through activity on numerous social media channels.

It's hard to say at this stage how successful we'll be at achieving our vision for the brand. But we have always considered the campaign a long-term strategy.

Kopparberg is a small brand with nothing like the spend of Magners, so we are never going to be able to compete with this cider rival like-for-like. However, Kopparberg's different positioning (no orchards here, thank you very much) makes the campaign feel real, distinct and more like activity you'd expect from a spirits brand.

- Simon Labbett is the co-founder and creative director of Saint@RKCR.

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