A Good Campaign Accelerates the Death of a
Olympia was a pale lager with a light taste, not unlike
1980, Olympia came to Chiat/Day, where I was working, to compete with
several other agencies in creating a campign to help with their
failing brand. Olympia Beer was brewed in the Western Washington town
of Tumwater, and had been a local favorite, but was losing ground
both to Budweiser and Miller and a local beer, Rainier, which had
been running an inconsistent, irreverent, humorous TV campaign based
on pop culture parodies. Meantime, Olympia's advertising was bland
and ordinary and did nothing to overcome its image as 'my dad's
appeared that there were no fundamental problems with the product, so
the marketing communications challenge appeared to be simply to make
Olympia 'okay for younger beer drinkers'.
felt that humor would provide the best approach, but we didn't want
to copy the Saturday Night Live humor of the Rainier advertising.
were pondering a communications strategy when I suggested a brand
personality based upon an entity--the Artesians. My feeling was that
they could be an 'underground' group of free spirits that played
pranks. But the Creative Department felt the Artesians should be more
like leprechauns or elves, and that the humor should come from the
lack of credibility of the people claiming to see them.
were chosen by Olympia to produce our 'Artesian' campaign, and
launched it a few months later.
The campaign was a resounding success. The brewery began to get
hundreds of letters a month. the Artesians entered the popular
culture locally, and both awareness of the Olympia brand and trial
rates for the beer soared.
ultimately, the campaign failed.
the same time the Olympia Brand Management was selecting a new ad
agency, they had given the assignment of redesigning the packaging of
Olympia to Bright and Associates, an outstanding L.A. design firm.
Bright came up with new designs that, as the client requested,
emphasized the lightness Olympia was known for.
the advertising did its job, and got beer drinkers to try Olympia
again, they anticipated drinking a light-tasting beer.
Unbeknownst to the product managers, the brewmasters had, at the
same time, reformulated the beer to a richer, more 'European' taste.
They did a great job. This newly-formulated beer was a clear winner
in double-blind taste tests against all the major American beers.
The result was disaster.
Buyers of Olympia--especially those trying it out for the first
time--expecting a light beer, tasted something else entirely. They
judged the new Olympia as a "bad light beer" instead of the objective
judgement: a "rich tasting beer".
This mis-communication destroyed Olympia Beer's tenuous hold on
market share, and resulted in the brewery being sold, and the loss of
many jobs. (Though several micro breweries were launced by departed
moral of this case history is that you have to understand what your
product is to the consumer. The product is more than you say it is.
It both "is what it is" and it also 'is what it was'. And even good
advertising cannot save a product that's mis-marketed.
Kelley Advertising and Marketing