Heineken-owned Mexican beer brand Sol is launching a new positioning that aims to make more of its strongest brand association: the sun.
The campaign, "Taste the sun", launches this week and is set to roll out in the UK, Australia, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Puerto Rico and South Africa this year and next. It was created by Maarten Vrouwes and Friso Ludenhoff for J Walter Thompson Amsterdam, and produced by New Amsterdam Film Company.
The main 30-second film features scenes of people enjoying a beer in the sun – but as the day moves on and shadows descend, they are forced to shuffle along to stay in the sunshine.
It is supported by a pair of social ads that reference the format on which they are viewed. One, which appears to be the Facebook news feed, features a man climbing out of one photo, in which he is in the shade, and into another, which is bathed in sunlight.
Sol said that festival activity linked to the campaign is planned for 2019.
In the other social execution, a woman makes a swiping gesture to bring up the phone’s display controls and increase the brightness, causing the sun to come out in the scene she is in.
Alessandro Manunta, international brands portfolio manager at Heineken, said the campaign was inspired by the founding legend that gave the brand its name: the first master brewer supposedly observed a beam of sunlight hitting the beer and named it El Sol. Just like The Facebook, it later dropped the definitive article.
Manunta referred to the strong international growth of the "sunshine segment" of the beer market: brands that originate in warm countries such as Sol’s native Mexico, that are easy-drinking and mid-ABV, and that often come in a transparent bottle.
In the UK, this niche is dominated by Sol’s Mexican rival Corona, which was the UK’s seventh best-selling beer (and 18th biggest alcohol brand) by supermarket sales in the 12 months to April 2018, according to Nielsen data.
Sol, in contrast, was not in the top 100 alcohol brands in that ranking. But Manunta denied that the campaign was primarily concerned with grabbing mindshare from the brand's bigger rival.
"Regardless of what our competitors are doing, the primary objective is to do something that was true to our origin and our DNA," he said.
Sol's marketing had previously been less focused, Manunta said, relying on several facets to present itself. One was "anchored to independence, to freedom, to the gritty side of the brand, to the old historical connection with Mexico", he said – and this will now be downplayed.
Instead, the decision was made to ramp up the element that research had shown to resonate most with consumers. "We know what a consumer sees when they buy Sol – they see a brand named after the sun, in a transparent bottle, that inspires them with optimism," Manunta said. "We weren’t really dialling that up in the past. It’s really heroing these elements above all, being single-minded."