Sol pours it on in U.S. with $15 mil campaign

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Sol beer continues its three-year foray into U.S. markets with a new strategy succinctly reflected in its latest tagline, "Live one cerveza at a time."

The TV, radio and print campaign, with an annual budget of about $10 million to $15 million, breaks this week. The work is the first from Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, New York, which won the business in January.

The fresh positioning emphasizes simplicity and the notion to enjoy friends, family and, of course, Sol beer. Sol wants to own the brand space that executives feel is exactly opposite that of chief rival (and No. 1 U.S. import), Gambrinus' Corona.

Juan Manuel de la Vega, Sol beer brand manager at Mexican brewer Fomento Economico Mexicano, alluded to Corona's campaign with its tropical vacation setting and said, "It's not about escaping to a Caribbean paradise for one week out of the year. You can do this on an everyday basis -- Embrace life. Enjoy living."

Bill Oberlander, Kirshenbaum Bond executive creative director, added, "The idea was to counter where Corona was with its message to work 51 weeks of the year, then collapse on the beach for one week. Sol's position is you've been around long enough to be wise and to get quality of life every day."

A SLOW START

Sol was first imported to the U.S. in the '80s, Mr. Manuel said, but by the early '90s, import levels by U.S. distributors had dropped to a trickle. In 1997, Labatt USA, a joint venture of Interbrew and Fomento Economico Mexicano, began a concentrated push into southern California.

The company will continue to build the brand slowly, with initial efforts focused in the southwestern and southeastern states, Mr. Manuel said. However, by 2002, the brewer plans to have Sol available nationwide.

The new TV ads use what Kirshenbaum Bond creatives' dubbed "woodmation" -- a cross between animation and puppeteering using characters with a primitive woodlike look. Both TV and radio spots use parables to underline the choice of simplicity. For example, in the first spot to break, a farmer's pig tempts him to grow even more grain, start an Internet venture called grain.com, go public and become filthy rich. The farmer contemplates the idea, then slaughters the pig and has a feast for his friends, complete with Sol beer.

Print will maintain the simplicity idea, although the ads will be more focused on the Sol beer bottle and feature quippy headlines. One of the first ads carries the headline, "Even if you win the rat race, you're still a rat."

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