Turning a brand: Warsteiner

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How do you make a boring brand interesting again? That is the question, Warsteiner asked itself.

Warsteiner is a German beer brand, a pretty big one. Their only problem: less and less people are drinking beer in general, especially young people. Also, their brand is perceived as rather boring. They have no stories to tell, and their marketing so far was rather “classic” and boring.


Two years ago my buddy Andy Chiu moved from Adidas to Warsteiner to become “Director Brand Marketing”. Back then we had a conversation about if he should really switch companies. Moving from a highly innovative, marketing-driven brand to a rather conservative company that lacked any glamour is a tough decision for anyone. Usually the answer would be pretty clear, but not for Andy. He told me about his talks with the people who wanted to hire him. It seemed they wanted to have someone, who really changes things and who has a “lifestyle” background. Consequently, given this huge opportunity, Andy decided to pick up the challenge.


A few people laughed. I had huge respect for his decision. It is so hard to change a brand. Not that it is actually so difficult. What makes it difficult are all the internal politics. ‘New’ means bad. ‘New’ means change. Change is painful, and most people don’t want change.

Two years after accepting the challenge, I still have deep respect for his decision. Andy moved a few things. One step to make the brand more relevant in younger target groups is the Warsteiner Art Collection. It follows a few projects that were designed to make the brand more relevant for opinion leaders:

A bottle with Marcelo Burlon, the MTV EMA bottle, and the Odd Future x colette Paris project.

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Yesterday, I received a special box of the Warsteiner Art Collection, the latest project. Six artists created their own bottle. The artists are well known street artists: Stefan Strumbel (Germany), 123Klan (France), INSA (UK), Aaron De La Cruz (US), Nychos (Austria), and Brooke Reidt (US). This is the outcome. I really like it. Sure, customizing a product to gain press and to do marketing with it is nothing new. However, if done well, who cares if it is new? This kind of marketing is rather cheap. You create a story around your product, and I am sure that it will drive sales. A lot of people will like it. Others will reject it, but at least Warsteiner starts to stand for something again, except boredom.


Saturday is the launch party in Berlin. I won’t miss it. I am looking forward to seeing all the artists live.

More on the Warsteiner Art Collection here. Available in store in September.

This is the official trailer:

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