Fred & Farid Los Angeles and Heineken’s Marcelo Amstalden Moller talk to LBB’s Laura Swinton about ‘Feel the Alps’, the floaty new global campaign for the premium wheat beer brand
A beautiful couple floats and dances through the Alps - but this is no Sound of Music. In fact, with Edelweiss’s new global campaign ‘Feel the Alps’, there’s no music at all, but an airy, ASMR-esque soundscape that’s refreshingly peaceful. After 18 months in various stages of lockdown, glued to computer screens and Zoom calls, a bit of space, a bit of quiet and a bit of romance is what we all need right now. At least, I know I do.
The campaign was devised by FRED & FARID Los Angeles, who have been working with the Heineken team for the past two years to develop the brand platform. After a successful pilot launch in South Korea, the beer will roll out across APAC markets including China, Singapore, and Malaysia, before launching in Russia and Denmark later this year. The brand itself is centuries old, brewed using a blend of herbs like sage, coriander and elderflower, but this is its first ever global TV campaign and marks a major expansion.
Caviar’s Arnaud Uyttenhove directs the spot that follows a young woman in a floaty dress that pops with the brand’s signature yellow as she soars through a beautiful European landscape, sky dancing with a man in sharp navy. It’s a modern take on a premium beer brand, and the team hope that by keeping clear of intrusive soundtracks and avoiding the need to over explain, the artistry of the campaign will shine through for the sophisticated international audience that it’s targeting.
Heineken’s Marcelo Amstalden Moller, global director international premium beer portfolio, explains that artistry and craft is vital to a premium brand like Edelweiss.“It’s extremely important to us. It’s about honouring our product’s long standing heritage as an authentic wheat beer while also conveying the essence of the product’s unique, fresh flavour that is like taking a deep breath of fresh mountain air,” explains Marcelo.
“The European Alps are free, revitalising and exciting and Edelweiss encapsulates that Alpine spirit, alongside a premium feel, in all of the brand communications. With Feel the Alps, we are bringing that sense of playfulness and freedom to consumers who crave new experiences and desire to leave the busy clamour of city life behind, with the visuals of the creative speaking for themselves.”
As well as capturing a feeling for the brand, the campaign does obliquely acknowledge the current global context. In a world plagued by Covid-19 and constant digital communication, there’s a universal yearning for space, freedom and freshness - which this campaign delivers by the pint.
“When you have a chance to visit the Alps, what strikes you first is precisely this notion of space and serenity. Somehow, communication feels ‘noisy’ today... so we decided to take the opposite direction, to leave all the space to this grandiose location and to the feeling of freedom that comes with it. The current global context definitely influenced the thinking,” say the team at Fred & Farid.
Appropriately for a campaign with a global scope, the idea itself was developed across borders. “We developed the campaign from Los Angeles with our clients in Amsterdam (Heineken headquarters). We shot in real locations in the Alps. The post production was managed in the US and we delivered adaptations for every specific market and communication plan,” says the team at Fred & Farid.
For Marcelo and the team at Heineken, the idea did exactly what it needed to, and they found the simplicity bracing. “The powerful simplicity of it, that brings to life what Edelweiss stands for as a brand.”
One of the big challenges for the campaign is that it needed to capture the feeling of the European Alps while appealing to a diverse global audience. The ambience and atmosphere had to feel authentic, despite the fantasy, and conjure up a sense of escapism for audiences from China and Malaysia to Russia and Denmark. This fantastical landscape had to feel relatable yet aspirational.
“The ‘Feel the Alps’ campaign is all about honouring the product’s long standing heritage as an authentic wheat beer while also conveying the essence of the product’s unique, fresh flavour,” explains Marcelo. “Although this may not be the current surroundings of our customers in APAC, we hope that it is relatable and aspirational to consumers who crave new taste experiences and a desire to leave the busy clamour of city life behind in exchange for a breath of fresh mountain air.”
For the team at Fred & Farid, striking that balance meant staying true to the brand and to the destination. Despite the challenges of the pandemic they knew that they needed the real deal. “With so many different markets, cultures and people to approach, we had to think of something simple, universal... A simple expression of the product truth: Feel the Alps. We could not imagine shooting the campaign anywhere else than in the real Alps. Despite the complexity of shooting on location at an altitude of 2000m, in winter, during a global pandemic, we had no choice but to go for it. We also knew adaptations and translations would take a large place during post production, so again we’ve been driven to think simple.”
One of the really distinctive aspects of the campaign is the colour design and art direction. Colourist Emiliano Serantoni eschews high contrast sharpness in favour of chalky violet blues and soft greens, and of course, sunshine yellow. That art direction comes straight from the Edelweiss product, explains the Fred & Farid team.
“Everything is inspired by the product, and the product itself is inspired by its heritage from the Alps. Edelweiss' visual identity is blue, white, and gold,” they say. “It’s very pure and premium… The director accepted the challenge we gave him to magnify the reality with a premium approach but he also embraced the lightness and simplicity inherent to the beer category.”
It's an execution that really commits to the idea - one wonders whether there were any conversations about explaining more or adding extra story elements, but thankfully both client and agency were fully behind the notion that quiet would cut through. And, even more thankfully, the research backed up their creative hunch.
“We are lucky to work with great clients, who love creation and are always open to discussions,” says the team at Fred & Farid. “The campaign went through a lot of research, ‘pre-tests’ and ‘post-tests’, in many different markets. And we were glad to see that our instinct was right: people were not necessarily looking for more product shots or for big music to try to make it more epic… People were simply buying the sense of freedom and joy Edelweiss wanted to convey”
Talking of ‘quiet cut through’, perhaps the strongest creative choice was the decision to lean into an interesting soundscape design rather than opting for a catchy music track that heavy-handedly tells the audience how to feel. There’s no yodelling and lonely goat herder here, thank you very much.
That delicious sound of silence took a while to get to, as initially the team did experiment with various musical options. “The post production process is necessarily long on this kind of campaign. And of course we tried several pieces of music that we worked and reworked with our great music composer in parallel with the edit and VFX,” says the Fred & Farid team. “But as we were building the spot, we felt the need to simplify the audio to come back to the concept, to leave space to the hero character: the Alps. So we naturally shifted with the team to a very pure approach of music and sound, minimalistic and organic.”
For Marcelo, that soundscape was an important part of the storytelling. “We wanted consumers to be transported to the soaring peaks and sweeping horizons of the alps, almost like an escapist’s paradise, and sound is a powerful way to do this. We felt that by allowing the noises that are native to the surroundings – blowing winds, chirping wildlife, and trickling waters – tell the story for us, the audience could create their own narrative and be truly immersed in the surroundings.”
Ultimately the campaign marks a fresh start for Edelweiss on the global stage, as well as signalling a contemporary twist on the premium beer category. Dreamy, natural and uplifting.
“Different markets are starting to explore the world of beer beyond lager and Edelweiss is more than just another beer; it is a new taste experience,” says Marcelo. “To us, the trend of premiumisation in 2021 means crafting fresh, pure and smooth products, with all natural ingredients that are true to the long-standing heritage of the brand. It means not having to compromise on taste or quality and knowing you’re experiencing the result of traditional brewing craftsmanship.”