Newcastle returns with campaign poking fun of July Fourth

Heineken's Newcastle Brown Ale is celebrating its British heritage with the launch of a campaign about a made-up holiday on the day before the Fourth of July.

WHITE PLAINS, NY: Heineken's Newcastle Brown Ale is celebrating its British heritage with the launch of a campaign about a made-up holiday on the day before the Fourth of July.

The If We Won program launched on Tuesday. It follows on the heels of the brand’s successful If We Made It Super Bowl initiative, which earned a Silver Lion at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity last week.

Newcastle invented Independence Eve because as a British beer company, it can’t leverage the Fourth of July in its PR and marketing efforts like American beer brands.

"The goal is to insert ourselves into the pop culture conversation in a way that is fun and unique to a British beer brand, and there aren’t a lot of opportunities to do that organically," said Newcastle brand director Quinn Kilbury. "We just try to find fun ways to get a creative message out there that our fans and future fans can enjoy."

The program, which is part of the brand’s No Bollocks initiative, asks consumers – in its usual tongue-in-cheek manner – to imagine America if Great Britain had won the Revolutionary War.

With the help of creative agency Droga5 and PR agency partner Fast Horse, Newcastle will poke fun at over-the-top marketing efforts used by American beer companies for Independence Day through a series of videos and content that will be rolled out over the next 10 days.

The brand will share about 30 pieces of content, including 16 videos, online and on its social channels, said Kilbury. The videos feature celebrities such as British actress Elizabeth Hurley, Golden Globe-winning British actor Stephen Merchant, and American actor Zachary Quinto.

Fast Horse is working to engage influencers and secure coverage in broad-reaching outlets to spread the word about the program, said Dave Fransen, senior director at the agency. The objective is to get as many eyes on the content as possible in order to have people share it with others, he adds.

The campaign, which Kilbury said is meant to be funny, not "anti-American," will include retail and in-bar promotional efforts. The celebrity brand ambassadors have done some interviews with media and will also use their own social channels to talk about Independence Eve, he said.

So far the video has been well-received online, with a 95% approval rating on YouTube, but Kilbury said "there’s a very real risk of some people not getting the joke."

While some YouTube users have clicked the thumbs-down button on the video, "basically anyone who actually watches the videos gets the jokes and thinks it’s funny," Kilbury added.

"Honestly, part of getting a campaign that really connects with people is that you have to not connect with others," he said.   

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