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Beer brands with a thirst for creativity

Raise a glass on International Beer Day for these hoppy Cannes Lions favourites

created on Friday 4 Aug 2017

Today marks International Beer Day: the global celebration launched in Santa Cruz, California and now observed in pubs and breweries across the world to honour the centuries old craft of brewing, and the people involved at every stage of the process.

We couldn't let it go unobserved. So, in our own toast to the amber nectar, we've taken a look at some of the best recent beer-themed winners and moments at Cannes Lions.

1. Jackie 

Client: Heineken 
Agency: Publicis Italy 
Award: Film Gold, 2017

In 2016, Heineken became official sponsor of Formula 1. An unlikely partnership, you might think, but the brand commendably took the opportunity to promote responsible drinking with the help of a Formula 1 legend, Jackie Stewart.

Set to the tune of Postmodern Jukebox's soaring cover of David Bowie's Heroes, the spot follows a convincing recreation of the racing driver in his '60s hey day, politely refusing bottles of Heineken. The slick-yet-sensible ad earned Publicis Italy a Gold Lion in Film at this year's awards.

2. Andes Bar 445

Client: AB INBEV 
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi
Award: Silver, Direct 2017, Bronze, Promo and Activation 2017 

Beer connoisseurs will be well aware that the perfect pint can only be poured with the glass tilted at a 45-degree angle. For those less acquainted with this golden rule, however, Andes beer came up with a quirky activation: the world's first 'leaning bar', and the place to teach the consumer "the perfect way to pour an Andes."

Constructed where else but the snowy mountainside of the real-life Andes, Saatchi & Saatchi's epic construction paid off: conversation on social media grew by 47%, shares on the fanpage increased by six-fold and 28,800 pints were perfectly poured during just the bar's first month. Even better, the agency reports that there were precisely "0 accidents, slips or falls."

3. The thinking behind Heineken's 'Creative Ladder'

A few years back, Heineken launched what they call the 'Creative Ladder', used to rank every piece of work and better the brand’s creative output. At Cannes Lions 2015, the brand’s executive director for global marketing, Soren Hagh explained why creativity is so vital to their bottom line. 

He says: “We used to live in an age where if you repeated a message often enough you somehow would get through. That type of blunt bombardment doesn’t work anymore. Right now, we live in a world where creativity is not just a way but more and more the only way.”

4. DB Export Beer Bottle Sand

Client: DB Breweries/Heineken NZ
Agency: Colenso BBDO
Award: Bronze, Promo and Activation 2017

Beer drinking wouldn't normally be considered an environmentally conscious activity – but thanks to DB Export, New Zealanders suddenly had a great excuse for a cold one. Its 'Beer Bottle Sand' campaign - which saw the brand build machines capable of turning beer bottles into a sand substitute - was launched to tackle the alarming rate at which the world's beaches are depleting.

TV, outdoor and digital were used to encourage Kiwis to drain a bottle for the good cause. Along with helping to keep sand on the beaches and glass out of landfill, the 13 million bottles emptied by drinkers increased DB Export sales by 9%, and other countries are now clamouring for similar machines.

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5. Exit

Client: Freedom Brewery 
Agency: Chi & Partners 
Award: Bronze, Print & Publishing 2017 

For this Bronze-winning campaign, Chi & Partners teamed up with artist Thomas Danthony on a traditional print campaign designed to dispel the beer’s modern-day ‘laddy’ image. Intended as a piece of artwork in its own right, the retro-themed, simply executed posters were gifted to publicans to decorate pubs and attract what the agency calls a “more discerning drinker”, providing Freedom with a whole new look and tone in the process.

6. How to bottle creativity

You might be a little more preoccupied with the contents, but a whole lot of thought goes into the design of a beer bottle. In this clip from his talk on the Cannes Lions stage, Heineken’s Senior Brand Director Gianluca Di Tondo traces the lager’s design evolution since 1963 and explains how the brand started off on its mission to “make moderation cool.”

7. Born the Hard Way

Client: Anheuser Busch
Agency: Anomaly
Award: Silver, Film Craft 2017

For this Film Craft Silver winner, New York-based agency Anomaly “saw an opportunity to remind the country what the best of American values looks like – freedom, ambition and authenticity – by telling our original immigrant story in a cinematic and relevant way,” at the same time as hopefully providing Budweiser with a sales boost.

The resulting period piece is based on the true story of Adolphus Busch and his treacherous journey from Germany to the US in 1857 – an original ‘American Dream’ story that saw him meet business partner Eberhard Anheuser, who together brought the world Budweiser. This year’s Film Craft panel were impressed by the attention to period detail, a commitment which even stretched to the recreation of an 1850’s era transatlantic ship.

8. Wasp Repellent Coasters

Client: Zatecky Pivovar Spol. S. R.O
Agency: Y&R Prague 
Award: Media, Shortlist

There’s nothing worse than a sip of the sweet stuff being interrupted by the buzzing of a menacing wasp - but Czech beer brand Zatec turned this beer garden hazard to its advantage with this shortlisted Media campaign. 

They created a set of Zatec-branded coasters designed to to repel wasps, and distributed them to beer gardens across Czechia. The cheap but effective campaign reached 600,000 people and resulted in a 23% increase in sales.

9. Creating "work that works" for a drinks company  

Diageo's Guinness has won multiple Lions in recent years. Here, the drinks giant’s CMO Syl Saller explains to Cannes Lions TV why creativity was key to this growth.

10. 'Responsibly the Beer'

Client: Ubrew
Agency: Mccann Milan, MRM/McCann, McCann Worldgroup
Silver, Promo & Activation 2017

Independent craft brewery Ubrew tasked McCann Milan with launching a low-alcohol content beer using small media investment, strong digital emphasis and a smart idea. The result? ‘Responsibly’: “The beer all the other beers ask you to drink.”

In a tongue-in-cheek integrated campaign, the agency cleverly hijacked the phrase used by all other beer advertisers, thanking them for encouraging others to drink responsibly and giving them some “free advertising.”

Check out more winners in the Cannes Lions Archive.