Content brand of the week: Newcastle, the beer brand that won’t let go of the past

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Newcastle? You mean the city home to the world’s most inventive jilted lovers?

No, actually we mean the beer. Newcastle Brown Ale to give it its full name.

Ahh yes I know it, tastes like soot. In a good way.

The beer may taste like soot, but Newcastle’s latest content marketing push is sweet as a nut. It’s aimed at the astonishingly massive American beer market, which currently adds up to more than $100 billion.

Who wouldn’t want a piece of that action?

Precisely. While not firmly established as a major player, Newcastle has been around the US for a while and drinkers there are dimly familiar with the brand as an import from the UK. It has decided to seize on the 4th of July (American Independence Day) to play up its Britishness, with a clever campaign that asks what America would be like if the UK had won the Revolutionary War. The brand has splashed out on some big names to star in its content too, like Star Trek actor Zachary Quinto, and best of all, Liz Hurley.

Because, nothing says ‘Newcastle’ like a plum-voiced aristocrat…

Like I said, they know Newcastle is in the UK, but other than that most Americans aren’t too au fait with the city. God knows what they’d make of Geordie Shore. That’s why, instead of trying to explain the difference between a Mackem and a Smoggy, the brand is focusing on broad caricatures of Englishness and using them to get laughs. Here’s an example of what we mean:


Wow, not holding back on the swear words is he!

Not at all. In fact, all the brand’s Independence Day Eve content (supported by hashtag #ifwewon) amps up the brashness and profanity –  even going so far as to call American muffins ‘bullshit’ in one video. It’s part of the ballsy brand persona that Newcastle is trying to communicate, as summarised by the brand tagline “Newcastle: No Bollocks”.

Isn’t that eerily similar to a certain UK beer brewer?

Yes, to be honest it is a bit like John Smith’s ‘No Nonsense’ campaign, but Newcastle has used video and social content really well Stateside to carve itself out a niche as a slightly different product in among the proliferation of Lite Beers that abound on most US beer shelves.

And has the content been successful?

Absolutely it has, the video starring Stephen Merchant was picked up by 9gag and even more impressively, the Huffington Post. Newcastle is no stranger to video content success though. Before it brought out its ‘If We Won’ content, the last big push from Newcastle was a series of videos that tried to tap into the excitement around the Super Bowl.

So it made a blockbuster ad to run in the famously popular and expensive commercial breaks between plays?

Nope. Newcastle was refreshingly honest and innovative in its approach, admitting straight off the bat that it couldn’t afford to make a proper Super Bowl advert. Instead it published a load of jokey videos with titles like ‘The Mega Huge Football Game Ad Newcastle Could’ve Made’, ‘The Cheap Ad we made for the pricey ad we didn’t make’ and ‘The ad Newcastle made to prepare you for the ad we didn’t make’. Here’s a still from one of the ads.

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Newcastle’s most popular video of all was this one starring Anna Kendrick, who was apparently livid to discover Newcastle had neither the money nor permission to make a Super Bowl ad after casting her in it and promising her a fat paycheck. This vid gets a big thumbs up for comedic use of the ‘bleep’ sound.


These videos are incredible! But wasn’t the Super Bowl six months ago? Does two campaigns in a year really count as always on?

While Newcastle does seem to save its best video content for periodic grandstand campaigns, it’s also hot on social, tapping into other worldwide events to promote its message of Britishness in the Land of the Free. Voici, le World Cup.

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The brand certainly has enough going on to keep its fans entertained between the big content drops.

Howay man, I cannee wait to grab a bottle o’ broon!

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Author: Tom Owen

A strategic storyteller and compelling content creator, awash with acuity and adept at alliteration. I work for Speak Media.

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