The first campaign for the Heineken-owned brand from new agency Richards Group, Dallas, plays up Amstel's brewed-in-Amsterdam roots, with scenes from that city's legendary, lawless party scene over the tagline "Dam good bier."
Goodbye, tasteful living
The new positioning represents an abrupt shift from former agency Publicis' final effort on the brand, dubbed "Live tastefully," that tried to position Amstel as an upscale brew ideal for fine food pairings and on-yacht consumption.
The Publicis push did distinguish the brand from its nightlife-centric sibling, Heineken Premium Light -- until that brand's introduction in 2006, Amstel had been loosely regarded as Heineken's lighter side. But living tastefully didn't reverse Amstel's negative sales trends, which appear even bleaker in the context of a generally positive sales environment for European imports.
"We've gone through a lot of iterations over time," said Kheri Holland Tillman, VP-Amstel Light for Heineken USA (yes, Holland is her real name). "For a long time, we were the only imported light beer, and then we went to 'Live tastefully,' which was a little more sophisticated ... but maybe not all that ownable." By contrast, "this is [a positioning] that we can own."
Light imports abound
Indeed, being a light import is hardly a distinction these days. In addition to Heineken Premium Light, which gets far more ad dollars than Amstel, Heineken USA also markets Tecate Light. Beck's Light and Corona Light also compete in the growing segment.
Amstel will be pushing its geographical heritage hard in the coming weeks, and nowhere more so than in New York, where a gimmicky advertorial placed in local papers next week will attempt to reclaim the former New Amsterdam, citing an alleged loophole in the 1664 transfer contract.
The takeover will be centered on -- where else? -- Amsterdam Avenue, where Dutch-style bikes will be pedaled between 72nd and 86th streets, including a 10-seat "beer bike," a foot-powered rolling bar of the sort found in Amsterdam.
The new effort will feature significant print, TV, out-of-home, digital and on-premise executions. Fifteen- and 30-second spots will run on sports programs and prime-time network shows, including ABC's "Lost," this summer. Print ads will run in magazines such as Spin, Entertainment Weekly, Maxim, ESPN and Wired. Ms. Holland Tillman said the brand is trying to target 25- to 35-year-olds now, as opposed to focusing on 30- to 35-year-olds as it had in the past.
Will slogan stick?
Pete Lempert, a principal at Richards Group, said he hoped "Dam Bier" would become a popular ordering call at bars, and noted that various coasters and table tents would be used to encourage the idea.
Amstel spent $9.1 million in measured media last year, a 46% decrease from the year before, according to TNS Media Intelligence.