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Foster's: 2014 IPA Effectiveness Awards Shortlist Interview

A campaign based around a humorous Australian helpline for British men with dilemmas helped the lager brand recoup its market leadership and delivered an estimated £32 of revenue for every £1 spent on advertising.


Q1. When and why did you decide to launch a campaign?

TH: “Foster’s was once the market leader in lager. However, by 2010 it was in a state of double jeopardy: it was losing share in a shrinking market. Due to rising beer duty, a recession and the growing popularity of wine, spirits and cider, all lager brands were hurting.  But the most worrying factor for Foster’s was that the brand had lost its connection with its core target. To arrest the decline in share, a campaign was launched in order to reconnect the brand emotionally with its core audience.”

Q2. How did you feel about the original brief?

TH: “Arresting decline in this kind of market environment was a daunting prospect.  In the six years prior to 2010, the total beer category had shrunk by 19% and this rate of decline was accelerating. 

“However, the enthusiasm, conviction and belief that the brand team had for Foster’s were infectious.  It was clear the brand had incredible equities; our challenge was to make them meaningful and relevant for the modern lager drinker. In short, the task was challenging, but in the best way possible.”

Q3. How hard was it to get the campaign signed off?

TH: “adam&eveDDB was invited to pitch for Foster’s in early 2010. As the Football World Cup was in the coming summer, the brand needed to be fit to fight quickly.

“We developed the ‘Good Call’ campaign, in which a tongue in cheek helpline staffed by an Australian duo, Brad and Dan, provided advice for UK blokes. We took the campaign through qualitative and quantitative testing, and it was quickly green lit and deployed.”

Q4. When and how did you first know that you had been successful?

TH: “As soon as the ads went on air, sales and market share started rising.  The rolling data we received from Heineken was robust and quickly illustrated that the campaign was doing its job.  But anecdotally, we realized that the campaign had taken root via social media.  Very quickly, ‘Good Call’ established itself within the target audience’s internet vernacular, and that was very pleasing to see.”

Q5. What was the biggest challenge in demonstrating the effectiveness of your work?

TH: “Disentangling the effects of advertising from promotions is a challenge in a market where so much volume is sold on promotion. Fortunately, we had econometric modeling conducted by Holmes & Cook to do the disentangling.”

Q6. How did this campaign compare to previous campaigns by the brand and competitors?

TH: “This was by far the most effective Foster’s campaign for many years, and an analysis of revenue generated per £ spent suggests that it is probably the most effective beer campaign ever entered for the IPA Awards.”

Q7. What lessons did this campaign teach you?

TH: “The first thing this campaign taught us was that being creative in how you uncover insights can reap huge rewards.  By employing an ‘eavesdropping’ approach to research, we were able to uncover some deep-seated anxieties that our target consumers were only revealing to those closest to them – their mates.

“The second lesson was about the power of getting the basics right.  In uncovering a powerful and influential insight into the target, we were able to develop a meaningful and deeply relevant campaign that would help Foster’s realise its commercial potential.”

Q8. What were the low points/high points of this campaign?

TH: It sounds like a cliché, but it has all been high points.  From being able to see our audience react to the campaign on social media, to the emergence of groups demanding Brad and Dan set up a real life phone line, we've been able to track the performance of the campaign in real time which has been incredibly rewarding.

“But the best thing about the campaign has been the knowledge that we've delivered an idea that has been incredibly effective for over four years.”

Q9. What would you do differently if you did this campaign over again? 

TH: “If we did this campaign over again, it might have been nice to have found a cast, crew and director that weren't all based in Australia 365 days of the year. The tyranny of distance has made it hard to be as reactive as we would have liked in a more digital centric media landscape.  However, there was no doubt in our minds that for the creative to be a success, we would need real Aussies, in real Australia using real Aussie-isms.  Anything less would have fallen seriously flat.”

Q10. If you could have worked on one, other IPA award-winning campaign over the years which would it be, and why?

TH: "I have to say John Lewis, Making the nation cry…and buy (2012 – Grand Prix from adam&eve/OMD) and not just to toe the party line.  It is consistently lovely work that really does work.  Its simplicity is its sophistication, and most importantly, I’m jealous.  I wish I had come up with it.”

Last updated 04/09/2014

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