This afternoon I strapped Gerda into her seat on the front of my bike and we went and explored Carlsberg.

While still the corporate HQ of the company, the area is being comprehensively redeveloped – 3,000 homes are going to be built here – but it’s currently a charming hodgepodge of adventure parks, artificial beaches, playgrounds, and assorted event arenas, sprawling in the long shadows of the mostly defunct industrial buildings.

Our route there takes us through Humleby, the maze of beautiful terraced houses originally built for employees of Burmeister and Wain, and then up the main cobbled street and into the heart of the area. We poked around the Boxland Bazar – a temporary flea-market housed in shipping containers complete with beach bar – and then strolled around enjoying the sunny weather and taking pictures.

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Carlsberg blandifies itself


Carlsberg is currently rolling out an aggressive campaign aimed at doubling profits by 2015. The main plank of their strategy is a new positioning to ‘help the brand unleash its full potential’. Unfortunately, that positioning is a generic, unengaging and arguably derivative pile of toss.

In the UK, where Carlsberg’s long-running ‘Probably the best lager in the world’ advertising was hugely successful and popular, it’s already being noted that Carlsberg’s new work is little more than a poor man’s Carling ad.

As John Hegarty argued in his wonderful Cannes keynote a few weeks ago, brand growth is increasingly tied in to genuine difference. When confronted with a pack of brands, consumers are more than likely going to plump for the lone wolf. With ‘That Calls for a Carlsberg’, Carlsberg succeeds only in safely reinserting itself in the middling rank of beers. No one’s offended, nobody gets hurt. The brand goes nowhere.

Here’s the latest TVC. It’s rubbish:

Compare and contrast with the awesome new K-Swiss’ work featuring the Eastbound & Down character Kenny Powers as the shoe manufacturer’s fictional CEO. Tagline – ‘Shut up and buy them’.

Here’s a couple of the standout pieces of content:

Too profane and too niche for Carlsberg? Probably. But if a mass-market brand can’t risk doing something this brave on a global level, it should just forget about trying to develop global positioning statements that mean nothing to anyone. K-Swiss inserts itself into the cultural conversation. Carlsberg politely excuses itself and fades from view.

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