Interview: David Scott, Director of Brands and Insight, Carlsberg UK

2nd May 2014

As the World Cup approaches, Sports4Bars.com's Justin O'Regan speaks to David Scott, Director of Brands and Insight at Carlsberg UK, about the brand's commitment to helping bars make the most of this precious business-building opportunity


It's unlikely to have escaped your notice but there's a certain football tournament taking place in Rio in just over a month's time. The World Cup is approaching rapidly and most clubs will already have grasped that the tournament, which kicks off in Brazil in June, is a major opportunity to drive footfall and boost business by giving fans a big-match experience that they couldn't hope to replicate sitting on their sofa at home.


Of course, creating the right atmosphere is not just a case of switching the TV in the corner on and hoping for the best, and with just over a month to go until the first group games, many bars will be switching into high World Cup mode in order to help drive business.


And support is most definitely at hand from the experts. As the Official Beer of the England Team (as well as the Premier League and tournament sponsor of the European Championships), Carlsberg is going all-out to help bars make the most of the World Cup, a process that David Scott, director of brands and insight at Carlsberg UK, has been working on almost since the end of the last major tournament, Euro 2012.


“The big tournaments come around every two years for Carlsberg so you finish one tournament and then you find yourself thinking about the next one!” he says. “But the excitement is really building now and it will be great to see all the planning and hard work coming to fruition in clubs and pubs and see a massive boost for those in the on-trade.”


According to Scott, the central mission of Carlsberg's World Cup campaign – the Carlsberg Fan Squad, fronted by celebrities Ian Wright, Jeff Stelling and Paddy McGuinness – is to remove all the frustrations that marr the football experience for fans at home, at the game, at work and, most importantly for Sports4Bars readers, in the bar.


Carlsberg has a long tradition of providing on-trade support for live football through its 'We Deliver More' platform, free online training sessions for licensees, England and Premier League POS material and the recent deal it signed with BT Sport in order to make live Premier League football more accessible to pubs and clubs through discounts.


Now it has carried out a huge amount of research in regard to fans' frustrations, and in the bar environment they include: the view of the screen being blocked; prime tables being taken by people not watching the game; fake fans who only turn up for the big games; people without a clue imparting their football wisdom; missing the action through toilet breaks or trips to the bar; lack of or too much TV volume; and a lack of table service.


“Our Fan Squad campaign is designed to try and take away those hurdles and remove the frustrations wherever you're watching the game so you can enjoy it,” explains Scott. “That's the key role that we found for Carlsberg and Fan Squad is the enabler which allows us to do that.”


“If certain things are issues for the football fan, how does Carlsberg help the licensee take those issues away? So, we've got free CPL Training sessions online which remind licensees the steps they can take to improve their customers' overall experience. It's about putting all those steps in place ahead of the tournament: making sure you've got a good rota – enough people to serve during a busy England match; that you're really driving awareness outside of the pub or club; essentially that you're communicating all the great things that you're doing.


“We'll also be running promotions throughout the on-trade with customers being able to win branded merchandise, TVs and places at 'The Ultimtate England Experience' during the Euro 2016 Qualifiers at Wembley.


“Anyone can point out where the inadequacies are in the live sport experience, it's more about what you're going to do about it and that's where we're helping the licensees by having the solutions. The bigger pub groups start planning and thinking about the World Cup well in advance but when you see the free trade and people who are supplied through the wholesale channel they often only wake up to the fact that there's a major tournament relatively late.


“But we'd expect a real flurry of activity from now until the start of the World Cup and we've got thousands of POS kits waiting ready to go out into the on-trade. As we know from previous tournaments, it'll go slowly at first and then go absolutely crazy as bars start to think properly about getting ready for the tournament.”


Tellingly, Carlsberg's Fan Squad advert that will debut on May 11th and run throughout the World Cup, is all about enjoying football in the bar. The advert follows three friends as their thwarted attempts to watch an England match in the 'Eternal Optimist' pub are resolved by the celebrity Fan Squad members. Stelling removes obstructions in the bar to give everyone an undhindered view of the on-screen action, McGuinness ensures the friends do not have to queue for beers by using a conveyer belt to serve drinks, while Wright is able to convince the referee to change his mind and award a penalty.


The Fan Squad campaign will run across print, broadcast and digital, the latter being a hugely important method of communication in an age when the smartphone is king and social media is so popular.


“Technology becomes more and more advanced and things change very quickly and for the connected hardcore football fan getting all the latest information and banter is literally all about your phone,” says Scott.


“So, if Carlsberg as a brand wants to understand the England fan we need to communicate with them on their own terms in terms of how they want to be spoken to. It's very exciting because it challenges you on how you think and how you can bring these things to life. I can't wait for the tournament to start and to head out to enjoy first-hand the excitement and enjoyment of watching the World Cup in the bar.


“But, of course, it doesn't end with the World Cup because if you get it right during the summer, your members will want to come back when the Premier League season begins again in August. The World Cup is a chance to showcase your bar and get people coming back for that experience throughout the season.”


Why live football is good business

  • Football watchers are more likely to buy beer, buy more often and spend over 25 per cent than non-watchers

  • Football drives significantly more volume to the on-trade than any other single occasion

  • Consumers choose beer (especially lager) when watching football in bars

  • There was an average of 68 per cent uplift in pints sold per outlet during the England v Italy game in Euro 2012

    (Facts supplied by Carlsberg)

Hurdles to overcome when watching football in the bar

  • View of the screen being blocked

  • Prime tables being taken by people not watching the game

  • Fake fans

  • The clueless imparting wisdom

  • Having to take toilet breaks/bar trips

  • Lack of/too much TV volume

  • No table service

What fans said about watching England games

“Works differently to club football as the social side is more important than the football”

“England matches are meant for watching in the bar... but often bad media, long queues at the bar and lack of seating”

“England in a tournament – it's summer, it's social, let's have a party!

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