Dos Equis

Paul Smailes, Brand Director

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Credit: Tony Pettinato
CHICAGO ( -- One man is largely responsible for the rise of Dos Equis, the Mexican import that is bucking slumping beer trends on its way up the sales charts.

That man is, of course, The Most Interesting Man in the World.

In real life, he is journeyman actor Jonathan Goldsmith, whose previous claim to fame was spot roles in TV shows such as "Charlie's Angels" and "Knight Rider." He got the Dos Equis gig in 2006, first appearing in targeted ads in 2007 as a James Bond-like character whose coolness knows no bounds. The campaign by Euro RSCG went national in 2009 and is now firmly entrenched in the national consciousness, spawning copycat ads by everyone from politicians to the owner of a Chicago rib joint.

For Dos Equis importer Heineken USA, the campaign has meant big sales at a time when other beers are struggling to battle the headwinds of a recession and competition from smaller craft brewers.

But the campaign's conceit carried some risk. Using a grey-haired, bearded man as a spokesman was an unlikely move in the beer business, where young-adult drinkers are the coveted demographic.

"We needed to ensure that the campaign we rolled out was going to break through," said Paul Smailes, Dos Equis brand director. "Through consumer research, what we found out was that import drinkers were sort of tired of the clich├ęs and sophomoric humor that are the staple of the category."

Shipments grew nearly 20% in 2009, outpacing Corona Light, which grew by 3.6%, and Corona Extra, which dropped 9.8%, according to Beer Marketer's Insights. Sales growth is occurring across all demographics, including whites and Hispanics, Mr. Shuhmacher said. "It's got a good price point," he said. "It's cheaper than Corona and still very drinkable."

Heineken continues to boost advertising on the brand, with measured media spending this year on pace to surpass 2009's total of $22.5 million, which more than doubled from 2008.

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