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Drylandia Takes Carlton Dry to a Faraway Land

September 2023

This is a self-funded case study using our ad testing solution.

From the depths of your wildest fever dream, welcome to Drylandia. During your stay, you may find yourself disorientated, a little on edge, or perhaps even questioning the meaning of life (or just the ad). But don’t be afraid, it’s all part of the charm.

For you see, the beauty of Carlton Dry’s new campaign launch, “Drylandia”, lies in its outlandishness. There are no rational messages here, and very few distinctive assets to be found. And yet, we think this campaign might just have legs.

Needless to say, its spawning into existence has caused quite the stir in marketing circles and also down here at Cubery HQ. While a two-star Cubery Rating might have had alarm bells ringing, we’re all about digging deeper into the data to unearth the components that make for effective long-term advertising. And we’ve found two big ones.

The first is the level of distinctiveness brought to the table. The ad demanded attention by simply being unlike anything else anyone had ever seen before. The ethereal setting was awash with the absurd, from elongated equine to space bending portals and robotic canape arms (…because, why not?). While this ode to the obscure didn’t translate into a high level of emotional appeal (a consequence of a quarter of people finding it irritating), it did deliver on the first step to creating effective advertising: getting noticed.

The second is the unique positioning the brand carved out for itself in a saturated beer market. Whereas VB is for the blue-collared, Great Northern for the outdoorsy, and Balter for the hipsters, Carlton Dry is now for the fun — according to GM of marketing, Nicole McMillan. However, just like all things Drylandia, everything isn’t what it seems.

While we can certainly see the gameplan in building an abstract and irreverent positioning (following in the footsteps of the brand’s “Temple of Dry” campaign from 2020), this extreme whimsical approach isn’t yet second nature for the Carlton Dry brand. As a result, the theme wasn’t highly congruent with expectations of Carlton Dry, meaning that impressions of the brand being fun and modern were somewhat subdued. In other words, while the ad left people confident that Carlton Dry offered something different to other beer brands in the marketplace, it wasn’t necessarily for reasons that were important to them.

Of course, there’s an argument to say that — if willing to back the campaign over an extended period — this style will become more and more ingrained for the brand over time. And then, once this fun thematic foundation has been embedded, it becomes easier to spotlight more important functional benefits (e.g. taste and refreshment) without infringing on the brand’s fun and whimsical positioning.

However, our experience has shown that this is generally the longer and more costly path versus simply infusing advertising with a “promise”. In other words, conveying something that the brand will help people achieve; addressing a ‘job to be done’ if you like. This means the brand will be thought of during key buying moments, thus not sacrificing the short-term in order to achieve a longer-term payoff. The very best advertising can and does deliver on both, and prioritizing one over the other is often a false dichotomy (which only leads to unnecessary wastage).

Get in touch to speak to one of our consultants about our ad testing & tracking solution. Expert-led, evidence-based insights — which don’t break the bank.

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