Now sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip…
The Lion-owned XXXX brand has long sought to create an association with sand, unshaved blokes and salt water. More recently they have tried to introduce the idea of beer as a community service by coming up with the idea of ‘man time’. They failed miserably at this four years ago when they canned the highly successful ‘Jacko’ campaign in favour of the desperately short-lived Build a Boat campaign.
Now, after a suitably long period to allow drinkers to forget they tried it before (during which they returned to the usual four unshaven blokes and a dog at the beach fishing), they have taken it one step further by taking over an island that will be called XXXX Island and marketed as ‘the ultimate destination for mates’ trips away’.
Build a Boat was described at the time as “campaign is based on the insight of ‘man time’ – busy men taking time out of their work and home lives to come together and spend real time with their mates, working together on a project.”
On the other hand XXXX Island is described simply as a campaign based on the insight that “Really busy lives, often juggling family and work commitments is ever present. We wanted to create something larger than life, something that gave Aussies the chance to get away and hang out with their mates.” This time they call it ‘mates time’.
After watching their boat campaign sink, the creative types at Lion have wheeled out what sounds to be exactly the same concept. The only difference is in this campaign is that while XXXX Gold drinkers like to hang around with their mates absent all responsibilities, don’t expect them to be creative and actually build something while they do.
On one level XXXX Island is a brilliant marketing concept that trumps the wildly successful VB Cold Gear campaign of last year. On the other hand, all of the cues associated with the campaign show that XXXX marketers see their beer as a singularly blokey drink for the over 35s and that the beer’s best offering is to give blokes an excuse to get away from their wives, families and responsibilities, or to live what Lion calls ‘the good life‘.
Not the proudest boast for the leading product in a declining market.
Once again, Australia’s largest breweries look to campaigns that, if successful, give them a few percentage points of market share against their opposite number while confirming all of the negative stereotypes associated with beer.
While the big breweries chase younger drinkers with ever-declining bitterness levels in their beers thinking that bitterness is the sole reason for the decline of the segment, they are willingly blind to the other factor leading to beer’s decline. In a world with changing tastes, the fundamental perceptions of beer are just as important a factor in the sliding fortunes of mainstream beer. Here they serve up the worst aspects of beer’s perception problem, dressed up with some spurious research.
While this campaign will generate high fives in the marketing team at Lion for the massive media coverage it will undoubtedly generate, watch for the way beer itself is discussed and the stereotypes that are reinforced by the campaign. When I asked whether it was a men’s-only campaign, I was assured that it wasn’t. The Herald Sun seems to have missed that part of the media release though.
Recently a Brisbane magazine ran a great story about the changing face of beer, talking about flavour and food matching and how women are being drawn to beer, and yet the magazine started with an editorial that was all about Homer Simpson and finished with the line:
“Which came first, the beer or the bulge, I can’t say but even Homer agrees that an overkill of ale can render a person stupid: ‘Homer no function beer well without'”.
Mainstream beer has become such a parody that even when a magazine is celebrating its finest aspects, it sees a parody of beers excesses as the best way to sum it up. And it is the impressions created by short sighted campaigns such as this that make beer a beer like XXXX Gold so easy to parody.
And if you’re ever wondered why beer ads always use four blokes, it was explained by the Gruen Transfer:
You can read the media release below. It’s a shame that it has to put such a bad face forward for beer because the Keppel region is a magnificent place to go with some mates…and maybe even your wives and girlfriends.
XXXX GOLD BAGS AN ISLAND – JUST FOR ITS DRINKERS
Thursday 15th March, 2012 – Fast becoming Australia’s favourite beer, XXXX GOLD today announced it has acquired a 15-acre island on the Southern Great Barrier Reef – called ‘XXXX Island’.
Designed to be the ultimate destination for mates’ trips away, XXXX Island will offer Aussies the chance to experience what XXXX GOLD terms the ‘good life’ – a relaxing few days where you can do as little, or as much, as you want with activities including fishing, touch footy, beach cricket, swimming in the ocean or simply barbecuing the catch of the day with a beer in hand.
Anna McMillan, XXXX Marketing Manager said the XXXX Island concept was created to inspire Aussie mates to get together for some genuine ‘mates time’: “Really busy lives, often juggling family and work commitments is ever present. We wanted to create something larger than life, something that gave Aussies the chance to get away and hang out with their mates.”
In fact, a recent study (1) revealed the last time the majority (57%) of Australian males got away for some ‘mates time’ was a year ago or longer – in fact for one in five males it is 10 years since they have been away with their mates – with nearly three in four confirming they get away less often than they used to.
“We know from our research that guys just love getting away with their mates and genuinely feel better for it. Hopefully XXXX Island will inspire them to do it more often,” said McMillan.
On hand to help XXXX GOLD create and build the ultimate destination for Aussies mates is the XXXX Island team of ambassadors, some of Australia’s best known sporting stars and personalities, who include television and radio personalities Jules Lund and Gus Worland, Better Homes and Gardens DIY expert Rob Palmer, former Aussie cricketer and current coach of the Queensland Bulls Darren ‘Boof’ Lehmann, fishing fanatic and former League star Andrew ‘ET’
Ettingshausen, outdoor expert and all-round adventurer Matt Wright, and chippies Duncan Miller and Mark Bowyer, The Two Fat Tradies, best known from The Block TV series.
“It’s awesome to be a part of this fantastic campaign. I’ve been there and as far as islands go, it’s just about perfect. I’m looking forward to working with this great group of ambassadors to help tell Aussies how they have a chance to get themselves to XXXX Island,” said Lund.
Making XXXX Island ‘Good as Gold’
Before it officially opens in October, the team behind XXXX Island will be asking Aussies to share their thoughts on what would truly make the island the ultimate destination for those who love the good life.
With very little on the island currently, XXXX GOLD is looking for ideas and suggestions on what they should build on or bring to the island, or what activities should be made available to mates who get the chance to stay for a few days.
“We’d love to help build an island bar on the Great Barrier Reef that has the ultimate view of the Capricorn Coast,” said Mark Bowyer.
“I’d like to see a one-hole golf course facing out to sea or a permanent beach cricket pitch on the sand so we can play as long as the sun shines,” said Darren Lehmann.
More on ‘Mates Time’
As research has shown, ‘mates time’ is crucial for busier-than-ever Aussie blokes. Half of those Aussie males surveyed said the best thing about getting away with their mates is the chance to catch up and have a beer or two, while nearly all respondents (94%) said they feel more relaxed and less stressed when they spend time with their mates.
It’s not only males who believe a mates trip away is a good thing – more than 80 per cent of women surveyed said their partner deserved a trip away at least once a year (2).
“Life is jam-packed, the finances are tighter and getting away with mates for a couple of days is too often consigned to the ‘too hard’ basket,” said McMillan.
“At the end of the day Aussie guys need to spend time with their mates – whether it’s over a beer at the pub, a camping trip up the coast or perhaps a few days on XXXX Island. It simply makes them happier and better for it,” said McMillan.
Aussies wanting to put themselves and three mates in the running for a trip to XXXX Island valued at $10,000 will be able to submit their ideas via the XXXX Island website. Additional chances to win will also be available via on-pack and on-premise promotions, through the XXXX GOLD Retreat and through a variety of other competitions.
For more information go to www.xxxxisland.com.au.
(1) Nine Rewards Research, commissioned by XXXX GOLD, 29th February, 2012, 1,000 males aged 32-54
(2) Lonergan Research, commissioned by XXXX GOLD, 27 February, 2012, 1,000 Australian females aged 32-55