In January Carlton & United Breweries, the official beer sponsor of the Australian national cricket team, honoured its pre tournament pledge to ‘Shout The Nation’ – buying the whole country a complimentary Victoria Bitter (VB) despite its Ashes loss to England.
Back in November it promised to buy a VB can or stubby for every adult Australian male if the Aussie team won the Ashes series. And despite a comprehensive defeat to the arch enemy, after the series finished on 9 January the beer brand did indeed buy the nation a round (rather than dump its well received campaign).
The free national round was executed via a complimentary VB voucher in selected News Limited papers which could then be redeemed at participating local Liquorland, 1st Choice or Vintage Cellars outlets. Participating papers included the Herald Sun (Victoria), Daily Telegraph (New South Wales), Courier Mail (Queensland), The Advertiser (South Australia) and The Sunday Times (Western Australia.
“We were all backing the boys to win back the urn, but unfortunately the Poms were just too good,’ said VB Group Marketing Director Paul Donaldson. “We promised to ‘Shout the Nation’ at the start of the Ashes campaign, and even though the boys didn’t bring home the Ashes, that’s what we are going to do.”
VB’s original (over-) confident campaign came shortly after Cricket Australia beamed a picture of captain Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke onto Big Ben with the message ‘Don’t forget to pack the urn.’ The cost of the promotion, if all 13m Australian adults took VB up on the offer is estimated to be in the region of AUS$19m.
As any Australian or British pub-goer knows, standing your round is a matter of honour. Anyone who shirks their turn is distrusted by the group, branded miserly and is often not invited back. VB clearly understood the need to honour its promise. Or perhaps, so much had already been invested in the campaign that it would have been foolish not to carry it through.
Indeed, the goodwill this gesture generates results in fantastic levels of PR that probably wouldn’t have been reached if the Australians had actually won the Ashes.