Steinlager links All Black tours past and present for 2015 version of ‘We believe’

Steinlager’s ‘We believe’ campaign in 2011 is rightfully held up as a brilliant example of sponsorship activation (and, given the All Black sponsor cleverly found a way to reference a tournament it wasn’t officially allowed to mention, impressive loophole management). Because it captured the nation’s imagination, became a “talisman of belief” and helped reverse Steinlager’s declining share of the premium beer market, it was always going to be a hard act to follow, but as the All Blacks get set to defend the RWC trophy in England soon, the long-time sponsor has brought the white can back again and made a connection between this European tour and another one that took place 110 years ago. 

2015 marks the 110th anniversary of New Zealand’s inaugural rugby tour of the UK, where the Originals won 34 out 35 games and established a winning legacy that continues to this day. To commemorate that tour—and, of course, cleverly reference a tournament it isn’t officially allowed to mention (that end frame looks suspiciously like Twickenham from above)—Steinlager has decided to compare the two.

The re-release of the can—”a lucky charm in 1987 and a nostalgic symbol of hope in 2011″—is supported by the ‘We Believe’ campaign, which was teased a few weeks ago. Once again developed by DDB, it aims to “tell the tale of the New Zealanders that earned the All Blacks name 110 years ago” and the campaign consists of 15, 45 and 60 second TVCs (shot by Adam Stevens of Robber’s Dog), outdoor, digital, social, PR and print. 

The 2011 campaign took a rare Creative Effectiveness Lion at Cannes in 2012 (check out the very detailed entry form here that explains the problem, the strategy and the results) and it played into both Steinlager’s idea of ‘Unconditional’ support over the years and All Black fans’ long wait between drinks and their concerns over the team’s ability to perform when the pressure was really on. Thankfully for most—not including proponents of best before dates—it didn’t need to use the version of the ad it shot where the main protagonist put his beer away again until the next tournament. And, as its Cannes entry concluded: “It is easy to let the tail start wagging the dog, letting types of campaigns dictate the idea and brand story. But ideas are bigger than that. Participation isn’t an end in itself but rather just a new way to let people into the bigger story of your brand. More than ever we need to create ideas that beg a reaction. Give people a reason to emotionally invest in the experience and the conversation the brand is having with them. Creating something of value for the consumer will in turn create value for brands.” 

While the historical comparisons and the celebration of the legacy will no doubt appeal to the purists, this campaign doesn’t seem to have quite the same relevance to the fairweather fans as 2011’s effort. And because the All Blacks won in 2011, the historical context of the can’s return doesn’t really apply in this case, so, apart from a ‘share your support and win’ scenario, there’s not as much of a participatory element for fans to get behind (and not as much opportunity for retail cohesion). 

Steinlager has sponsored the All Blacks for over 25 years and when we spoke with previous marketing manager Todd Gordon in 2011 he said the company strongly believes the team is a better property to be associated with than the Rugby World Cup (Heineken’s Rugby World Cup campaign features a cheeky chappy infiltrating the RWC, although he seems to have done it more successfully than Leigh Hart did in the Cricket World Cup). And Ben Wheeler, Lion’s category director for beer, agrees, saying: “Just as our emerging nation believed in them back then, New Zealand still believes now.”

Stevens says the story of the Originals is a great one. “Regular colonials travelled for six weeks on a boat to Plymouth, away from their families for eight months playing 35 games and only losing one. Being given the chance to put my own spin on this story was a real honour. It was also a wee bit terrifying, making a mess of the ‘Legend of the Originals’, in this rugby mad country, would probably have meant exile!”

Young & Shand, which won Lion’s digital business in a recent pitch, was responsible for developing a website that shows the evolution of the team from a bunch of underdog yokels to one of the most successful professional teams in history—and, in typical sponsorship fashion, it attempts to imbue some of the traits from the team into the product. 

“With this name came a promise. A warning for future foes. “Come challenge us if you dare. We’re ready to fight, raised with a relentless spirit that will never back down. Our beer Steinlager shares this spirit. Born from a desire to challenge, ready to stand up in the face of adversity. Together, white cans in hand, belief in our hearts, we can conquer the world one more time.”


Client: Steinlager

Category Marketing Director – Beer at Lion: Ben Wheeler

Assistant Brand Manager: Benafsha Hajati

Agency: DDB
Chief Creative Officer: Damon Stapleton
Executive Creative Director: Shane Bradnick
Creative Director: Chris Schofield
Art Director: Nicole Sykes
Copywriter: Rory McKechnie
Group Account Director:  Scott Wallace
Senior Account Director: Jenny Travers
Planning Director: Rupert Price
Executive Producer: Judy Thompson
Agency Producer: Samantha Royal

Production Company: Robbers Dog
Executive Producer: Mark Foster
Director: Adam Stevens
DOP: John Toon
Editor: Tim Mauger
Colourist: Pete Ritchie
Online: Stuart Bedford
Composer/ Sound Design: Cam Ballantyne
Sound Mix: The Coopers

Media: ZenithOptimedia

Group business director – Alex Lawson

Senior media planner – Kate Gamble

Media assistant – Stephanie Todd

Public Relations: the pr shop

Business Director: Pippa Lekner

Account Manager: Tom Frankish

Digital Agency: Young & Shand

Creative Director: Jon Coles / Tim Wood
Designer: Jack Wadham
Art Director: Harriet Spratt
Copy writer: Eddie Dickens
Head of Development: Andrew Dover
Developer: Matt Quinn
Director of Operations: Matt Van Tiel
Strategy Director: Ian Howard
Group Account Director: Dan Phillips
Account Director: Dan Maas
Senior Account Manager: Danica Paki
Account Manager: Richie Bramley
Account Executive: Emilia Robertson

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