Behind the Work in association withThe Immortal Awards
Desperados Gears Up for a Global Arty Party
London, UK
The vibrant beer brand’s Desperados Collective enters its second year, as it uses art to encourage people to get adventurous, Rutger van der Stegen tells Laura Swinton
As a beer that brings together lager and tequila, Desperados isn’t afraid to mix things up. For Rutger van der Stegen, global marketing manager at the brand, that adventurous spirit makes collaboration with creatives a natural place for Desperados to play. Often that’s with DJs and VJs - this is a brand that loves to party after all - and during the peak of the pandemic in 2020, Desperados beat the current stampede of brands to the metaverse by a year and a half, with a huge global virtual party. And now, Desperados is embracing the visual arts, from photography to fashion.

They’ve just launched the second edition of the Desperados Collective, a series of remixed artworks from artists all over the world. The campaign will live on social media and out of home, bringing the Desperados party to the streets in time for the summer. This year’s Desperados Collective are: Loza Maleombho (artist and fashion designer from Ivory Coast); Drcuerda (artist duo from Spain);  Shuta Bug (visual artist from Nigeria); Elmotion Lab (a digital studio from France) and PEBE Studio (a multidiscipinary studio from Spain).

Image from PEBE Studio

In terms of figuring out which artists to collaborate with, Rutger explains there were a few key criteria they had to hit.

“So, first and foremost it was about looking into who are the creators that push the boundaries in their own territories. But then also thinking, in the end we want to be a springboard for upcoming artists as well. So we were looking for global artists with global reach and who could act as a mentor, but also some rising stars that they could collaborate with within their own field. We have fashion, we have visual artists, we have digital artists, so that they could collaborate with them and amplify their own work,” he says.

Design by Loza Maleombho

“But [it] also reflects our global footprint because we are growing fast not only in Europe where we have a strong footprint, but also in Africa. So we also have artists from the Africa region, with a great artist from Ivory Coast, Loza Maleombho, and Shuta Bug from Nigeria. Exciting times,” enthuses Rutger.

Rutger’s is full of passion about the energy of the work - which slots right into the visual language of Desperados, albeit with an artistic twist. “[I love] the vibrance and colours and just energy that goes through their artwork, I think it’s amazing and indeed also what was very true to what we always try to do with our brand assets or even the bottle. It’s super colourful, right? It’s really vibrant, and if we can collaborate with artists who have that same vibrance in their pieces, that’s super.”

Artwork by drcuerda

One of the most interesting creative challenges with this campaign was figuring out how to give each artist the canvas to express themselves and experiment while also fostering a sense of cohesion across the campaign. 

“I think it’s an interesting question because that’s also why this campaign, which is super exciting to make, is sometimes also a bit uncomfortable. You’re like, ‘ok, how far can we stretch it?’ And I think that’s the beauty of it, right? I think as long as it’s vibrant, if it’s colourful, if energy pops from the artwork, that’s what we love. That’s what the general direction is, and why we chose some of these artists. It has to be authentic work. Then, if we look to what that means from a brand perspective, it should integrate our brand assets in a natural way. And when I talk about brand assets, I’m mostly talking about the iconic bottle and the brand colours that we have. There's a bit of a thread that we want to see through it, so that there is some visual recognition for consumers.”

Animation from Elmotion Lab

The Desperados Collective springs forth from the brand’s ‘Pour some unusual on your usual’ platform, which Rutger says, in turn, flows from the very essence of the product.

“I think what’s super inspiring about this brand is that, since our start, we’ve been mixing beer with tequila; we’ve always been about experimentation,” explains Rutger. “It’s great to experiment in life and try new things… If we look at what our consumers feel, first and foremost they want to be free to be themselves but sometimes they feel a bit controlled by social context, social judgement and therefore they don’t really feel free to actually show themselves fully. So, what we want to do with our own brands is always experiment and we want to encourage our consumers to actually try new things, whether that’s big or small. ‘Pour some unusual on your usual’ celebrates this mindset and gives it a bit of an unexpected twist with this line. We celebrate the unusual in its most positive form -  creativity of experimentation.”

Animation by Shuta Bug 

As the campaign rolls out and the broader brand platform grows, Rutger has a layered view of what he wants to achieve with it. He hopes that it will encourage consumers to adopt the mindset of trying new things and that people will start to connect this attitude and behaviour with Desperados. 

With the Northern hemisphere entering its spring and summer seasons, the Desperados team is looking forward to building on the Desperados Collective - and also getting back to the joyous experiential and event work that has traditionally really brought the brand to life. After the aforementioned steps in the virtual world during the pandemic, Rutger is relishing the chance to get into the real world. As well as the virtual parties, they also worked hard to help save nightclubs hurt by the lockdowns with their ‘Rave to Save’ app.  Now they’ll be raving for real.

“We really like to experiment, indeed. We were pushed to make that step earlier than we expected fully into the virtual world. But it was an amazing ride and we enjoyed every single bit of it,” says Rutger. “We are super happy with what brought us into the virtual world because we learned so much. And we really enjoyed collaborating with digital platforms. But being able to do that in a hybrid way and also in real life again, that’s amazing.”

And looking forward, while Rutger won’t spoil anything about what’s coming next, he’s excited about the creative journey ahead.

“I cannot say too much about it, but let me tell you this at least, you can expect more artworks and collaborations through the collective later in the year, because there will be more countries and mentors and artists joining. Then, of course, we will be banging at parties again across Europe but also in Africa… We have an amazing platform that started last year with Rave to Save, and we will have an extension into this year with some groundbreaking ways of bringing people together and unlocking the energy of dancing together,” reveals Rutger. “We will also have another element to our brand campaign which we’ll be launching soon. So stay tuned - we will have some more inspirational stuff coming!”

Main image by Shuta Bug
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