When I first saw Dos Equis’ “The Most Interesting Man in the World” commercials a year ago, I knew it was going to be a hit ad campaign. The beer industry is saturated with either cheesy college beer brands or labels that only die-hard beer enthusiasts will touch, and hardly anything in between.
That’s left plenty of room for a witty, aspirational brand with dimension to come along and serve the beer drinkers who don’t fit into either of those demographics. With the success of the Dos Equis ads, it seemed like the brand was poised to fill that void. After all, no other brand of beer had arrived on the scene and suggested that if James Bond, James Dean, and George Clooney were to have a beer - even if it was just once in a while - theirs would be it.
The hilarious ads weren't a mistake, though. According to Account Director Mary Perhach at Euro RSCG, the brand had always been identified as having a certain 'mystique' (though I'd argue that the 'mystique' was more like “lack of awareness”). The entire creative team at the agency executed the commercials brilliantly.
They've transcended the television medium, too, garnering millions of hits on YouTube, lots of buzz surrounding the actor Jonathan Goldsmith, and tons of amazing press. All of this should, in theory, propel this campaign into the rebranding hall of fame.
The Dos Equis campaign, however, misses a crucial component of a rebrand: the product itself. Last week I was having a drink with a friend when the bartender asked what I wanted. They didn’t have my usual scotch so I asked him what beer he had. Heineken, Amstel, Corona, Dos Equis. I thought to myself, “I don’t always drink beer, so why not try a Dos Equis?” I remembered the ads perfectly. So I ordered my first ever Dos Equis. The commercials had worked. But when the bottle arrived, it looked exactly the same as the old bottles, a curious move given that the design had never been memorable to begin with unlike, say, a Corona or Coke bottle. If a company is spending all this time and money rebranding itself, why not go all the way and update the product to match the campaign?
My first sip of Dos Equis wasn’t memorable. Again, I’m not a beer drinker and, yes, taste is subjective, but poor past taste reviews, including a 2.49/5 rating on RateBeer.com and a C+ rating on beeradvocate.com, should have made the Dos Equis team realize that if there were ever a time to improve the product itself, this would be it. This isn’t the ad agency’s fault - it’s the failure of Dos Equis to seize such a crucial opportunity in product development that would bolster the brand as a whole.
When I got home, I checked out the Dos Equis website. To my surprise, it reminded me of a carnival game - the same old marketing geared towards college kids. The Most Interesting Man in the World went from Sean Connery in 007 to Chevy Chase in a suit, spinning around in a chair asking me to play games. What happened to the mystery? The distinguished player I’d seen in the ads?
Dos Equis missed an opportunity to create a truly remarkable re-brand. Yes, sales have increased 17%, but it hasn’t changed the fact that the beer is mediocre, at best. Funny commercials are great, but without a great product and user experience to match, it doesn’t matter how cool your campaign was. So while you may have an initial boost in sales due to a funny ad campaign, your product will never sustain growth if real improvements aren’t made.
What can we learn from this? A lot, actually. For starters, it’s great to target an untapped market, create demand where one didn’t exist before, and create aspirational ads mixed with humor and sophistication. Your re-branding may even generate a lot of buzz. But how do you really create brand loyalty after the splash of a successful ad campaign? Fix your product. Create a better experience and the consumer will love you for it. It’s not too late, Dos Equis.
What they got right:
Great ad campaign
Targeting an untapped market
Perfect combination of sophistication and humor
What they could have done better:
Improved taste and updated bottle design
Studied the James Bond empire book of marketing
Avoided being cheesy
Created a better website experience