Modelo Especial Goes For Mainstream Audience With National Campaign

Fast-Growing Brew's Push Marks First Broadscale English-Language Effort

By Published on .

Advertising Age Player

Modelo Especial, which might be the quietest fast-growing beer brand in America, is about to make some ad noise. The Mexican import will soon break its first national English-language campaign as it seeks to grow beyond its loyal base of Hispanic drinkers.

The campaign, which includes two TV ads, is not flashy and continues a tagline the brand has had in place for a while that encourages consumers to "discover the Especial." One TV spot (above) describes the brew as a "high-quality, honest beer," while touting its clear bottle that "shows off its character."

The goal is to introduce the brand to a wider audience. "It's amazing how many general-market consumers aren't even aware of Modelo Especial," said Jim Sabia, chief marketing officer for the beer division at Constellation Brands, which owns Modelo, along with Corona, Negra Modelo and Pacifico. He said that 40% of consumers do not recognize Modelo even when its name is presented to them on a list with other beer brands.

That has not stopped the brand from continually posting impressive sales growth. In the 52 weeks ending Jan. 25, Modelo grew 25% to $739 million, ranking it as the ninth-largest beer and second-largest import behind Corona, according to IRI. (That does not include bar sales.) Modelo Especial edged out Heineken, which posted $739 million in sales after 3% growth during the period.

The momentum has primarily come from Hispanic consumers, which account for 60% of its sales volume. But Modelo Especial, which has been available in the U.S. for some three decades, has been inching its way into the mainstream in recent years as Constellation has expanded distribution. Just five years ago, Hispanic consumption accounted for some 80% of volume, Mr. Sabia said.

The brand waited to release a national campaign until Constellation execs were comfortable that distribution had reached a tipping point. That way, the marketer ensures it is "not advertising to empty shelves," Mr. Sabia said.

The move comes after Constellation late last year shifted creative ad duties on Modelo from Omnicom's Goodby Silverstein & Partners to WPP's Ogilvy & Mather, Chicago. But Ogilvy did not handle the new TV ads because of timing issues, Mr. Sabia said. Rather, Constellation used a production company that made the ads based on a brand "manifesto" developed by Goodby and La Comunidad, which remains Modelo's Hispanic agency.

Here is a look on ad plans for Constellation's other key brands:

Corona: The brew, which grew sales by 7.3% in the 52 weeks ending Jan. 25 according to IRI, will continue its long-running "Find Your Beach" campaign by Cramer-Krasselt. Here is one of the new spots:

Advertising Age Player

In another ad, Corona will plug its new can design. The old cans were blue, while the new ones look more like Corona bottles.

Advertising Age Player

In another new twist, Corona will appear in one ad alongside Casa Noble, a premium tequila brand that Constellation acquired last year. The ad will run during the Cinco de Mayo timeframe. "There are so many occasions in which beer and tequila work [together], especially Mexican beers," Mr. Sabia said. It is unusual for a beer brand to appear with a liquor brand in the same ad. But the ever-loosening rules on liquor advertising on TV gives ads like this one the chance to reach a wider audience.

Corona Light: Ogilvy also picked up Light from Goodby last year. The shop's debut work for the brand uses the line "light cerveza" and has a faster pace than regular Corona ads. Spots show people dancing and playing volleyball, for instance. Why use cerveza? "We haven't played up the fact that we are a light beer from Mexico," Mr. Sabia said. Last year's campaign focused more on taste. But this year "we wanted to add a little more sociability, a little more energy to the brand," he said.

Negra Modelo: The brand will continue its partnership with celebrity chef Rick Bayless, who stars in a digital video ad that will run on food and culture websites.

Most Popular