The cap on a beer bottle is surprisingly valuable real estate. The perfect platform for some outright branding or specially commissioned art, the bottle cap is a functional little being that’s a whole load more than the sum of its parts. But Colombian beer brand Aguila - part of AB InBev - is giving up its cap space for a cause that it sees as more worthy. 'The Beer Cap Project' is a campaign devised by MullenLowe SSP3 that involves gifting the surfaces to other brands such as KFC, Papa John's, Uber, Cabify and UberEats.
But it's not just a stunt for the sake of it. It's a campaign aimed at encouraging responsible drinking. Look closely and you'll notice that all of the listed companies can all play a role in responsible drinking. Uber and Cabify can get people home safely, while the likes of KBC and Papa John's play a role in dishing out hearty food to soak up the booze. Each beer cap also offers discounts on products from the featured brands.
Another cheeky aspect to the campaign is a series of print ads placed outside breweries around the world encouraging them to get involved too. Addison Capper chatted with Carlos Andrés Rodríguez, chief creative officer at MullenLowe SSP3, to find out more.
LBB> This is an amazing project. What are its foundations? Was there a brief? How did it come about?
Carlos> A lot of brands around the world are speaking about responsible consumption of alcohol. However, none of them are taking real action or giving tools to consumers to help them avoid binge drinking. That’s why we decided, as a brand, to take action and do something to help change their behaviour and give consumers something tangible to achieve this. We came up with the idea of removing the Aguila logo from their own bottle caps and giving this space to food, water and transport brands, in order to make it easier for consumers to avoid binge drinking while partying.
LBB> What kind of research around binge drinking informed the campaign?
Carlos> The MullenLowe SSP3 strategy team and Aguila looked into what people do when they drink in excess. With these real insights we launched the first phase of the campaign through traditional media, generating awareness around the topic and making people think about responsible consumption from a different perspective.
LBB> At what point in the process did the idea to donate bottle cap space to other brands come up? What inspired that idea?
Carlos> The brief asked for ideas that generated a behaviour change so we needed to find a way to make people take actions. We remembered the ‘Metaphor for change’ by psychologist Jonathan Haidt in which he states that the human brain is like a rider on top of an elephant. The rider is the rational part, he analyses and makes decisions, but he won't get to his destination if the elephant, the emotional part, disagrees. Through this, we found that we needed to convince people to eat while partying, drink water between alcoholic drinks and to return home safe (and at a reasonable time!). The best way to achieve it was by giving people those three things for free. Then we had to find a way to do this and we realised using the bottle caps was ideal.
LBB> What did your client say when you initially pitched the idea?
Carlos> They loved it! As it was an idea based on real universal insights (that most people have suffered a blackout the day after a binge drinking session) they understood its power and its potential to develop different and memorable executions.
LBB> How did you go about enlisting brands to feature on the bottle caps? And what kind of reaction were you met with?
Carlos> We wanted brands on board that would be a natural part of the consumer's journey on their night out. One important thing was that we partnered with food chains that were open 24/7, allowing us to reach as many party zones as possible. Having traditional transport systems involved was going to be very difficult in terms of logistics so we invited both Uber and Cabify to join. Both of them loved the initiative, so they jumped on board. Another key player to succeed was a convenience store, a partner that would ensure the audience could trade caps for food or non-alcoholic drinks. Oxxo - a local version of Seven Eleven and part of The Coca-Cola Company - accepted our invitation to be part of the project.
LBB> Tell me about the print campaign in other cities outside of Colombia. Which breweries / cities did you target and why?
Carlos> If there’s one thing that iconic beer brands share, it’s the importance of their origin. So, we decided to challenge five brands to join this initiative by targeting their hometowns. Through billboards and other OOH ads we challenged Asahi in Tokyo, Heineken in Amsterdam, Pilsner Urquell in Pilsen (Czech Republic), Guinness in Dublin and Miller in Milwaukee.
LBB> Have you had any response from any other beer brands about the campaign?
Carlos> So far, we haven’t received an answer from any of the brands we targeted, but we will keep waiting and knocking on some new doors!
LBB> What kind of results have you seen since the campaign launched?
Carlos> The campaign achieved a 20% redemption rate when the benchmark was 5%. It’s also received a lot of buzz on social media and to date, we’ve had over 60 publications share news about the activation.
LBB> What were the trickiest components and how did you overcome them?
Carlos> There were many variables that had to be managed. From a logistics point of view, changing our caps in our breweries was a big challenge. Convincing other brands to be part of the campaign was also a big task. We also wanted to make sure there were good conversations happening on social media so consumers could actually change their behaviour while they were out partying. Working on all of these variables at the same time definitely kept us alert and allowed the campaign to be a success.