A few years back I worked one of the by then “main” beer brands in Portugal. Well to consider Tagus as one of the main beer brands is a stretch but according to the pie charts that’s where it was.
It was a fun brand to work. It had a great communication strategy that served a truly different concept (for the time) based on a few “characters” with a rather cool influence among the people we thought drank Tagus (or so we thought). All was fine and dandy. Except Tagus was nowhere to be found. And despite all the communication efforts nothing was working. We (as a brand) were failing at getting the precious golden liquid into people’s mouths. It wasn’t that people didn’t like it – in the blind tests 9 out 10 gave it a clear advantage, although on a regular test 10 out of 10 it would fall last. It had a clear perception problem. It was associated with College parties and has being “cheap”. The portuguese beer market is highly divided between 2 brands and it’s a pain to make a dent (if that’s what you want). But the main problem for Tagus was distribution. One couldn’t just find it anywhere. No one sold it. Trust me, we tried. While brainstorming we sent out various team members to Lisbon’s highest density neighbourhood when it came to bars and pubs. In 40 to 50 bars not a single one sold Tagus. They had to walk close to 10km to find it. In a supermarket.
So we had a problem. People actually liked it (as long as they didn’t know it was Tagus) but no one was able to buy it.
One of common triggers to reach a strategy that fits the context and the objectives is that you can transform weaknesses into strengths. And that’s what we did. We harnessed the power of scarcity: “Tagus is so good that you can’t find it anywhere! We dare you to find it! C’mon, hit the streets, find it! Please show it to us, because not even we can remember to what it looks and tastes like.”
It was a great exercise, one that opened a lot of creative doors to deal with the problem and showed us that sometimes it’s not all about the pros, the target, the positioning. Sometimes the problems we need to solve go beyond our “natural” comfort zone. In this case we identified the problem as being the distribution and we thought of a strategy to deal with that in the comms field.
Unfortunately I can’t tell you if it would have worked or not because ultimately we didn’t pitch the idea and the brand (really) ceased to exist. But what I’m trying to tell you is that sometimes it’s not about finding only the good things to exacerbate. You can turn the problem upside down and play with your weaknesses too. But again, this is just an exercise. I honestly can’t predict the outcome if we managed to pull it through.
Disruption even if only in an academic/case scenario is always a good thing. It forces you to be on your tiptoes and to question everything.