Putting beer on the table in the land of wine

Globally the beer market is fiercely competitive. France is something of an anomaly in that the biggest competitor to a beer brand is not other beer brands, but the alcohol most famously associated with its culture and identity, wine. Whilst 16 per cent of the French population drinks beer, a much more significant 59 per cent consumes wine.

1664 is a brand that has always strongly communicated its traditional French values. This put it in the perfect position to directly challenge wine in its own territory – at mealtimes.

Nourishing the brand challenge

Our data told us that attitudes to beer in France were ripe for disruption. ‘Wine is really anchored in the French habits,’ and ‘I like beer but I don’t drink it during mealtimes as it never matches what I’m eating’ were insights that informed our thinking. What if we could somehow put 1664 front of mind at a very significant moment of consumption, a mealtime? As 1664 has the widest range of beer flavours from the fruitiest to the most intense, we realised each flavour could complement a different meal.

To stake a claim at mealtimes for 1664 we enlisted the help of a charismatic, strong-minded spokesman in the form of two-star Michelin chef Philippe Etchebest. Etchebest is known through France for his previous careers as a boxer and a rugby player, and for appearing in the popular TV programme ‘Cauchemar en cuisine,’ the French adaptation of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. An opinionated and colourful character, he was the perfect spokesman for 1664.

Playing with traditional bistronomie

Our activity worked on two levels. Firstly, we needed to position 1664 as a beer to be enjoyed at mealtimes by staking a claim for beer’s place at the table. Over ten spots on RMC and Fun Radio, Etchebest showcased his best recipes associating beer and food. This was supported with the launch of an online video spreading the key messages of beer and food and promoting Etchebest’s modern interpretation of traditional French cuisine. Thanks to Etchebest’s strong personality, skills and creativity we were able to really play with the codes of traditional bistronomie. Using the 1664 Faceboook page, Etchebest challenged fans to revisit famous meals and enjoy them the French way, and an app ran alongside with a competition between regions to win a cooking workshop hosted by our chef.

Our second level of activity focused on changing customer habits and encouraging beer consumption at mealtimes. Etchebest created 30 original recipes which we distributed online and in selected retailers. We also created 10 videos in which Etchebest and a master brewer discussed combining food and beer. And to encourage orders of 1664 in restaurants and bars, we ran a promotion offering to pay 15Euros of the customer’s bill in return for an order of 1664 with his or her meal.

Spreading the word far and wide

1664 now ranks second in the beer market, with the strongest growth in sales volume and value. The campaign added 40,000 fans to 1664’s Facebook page in less than eight months. We achieved more than 63m impressions and 105,000 unique visitors to 1664’s website during the campaign period. In total 300 bars and restaurants contributed to our experiential promotion, which saw more than 48,000 people order a 1664 with their meal.

Market: FR