Increasing effectively brand proximity: a beer brand case

Increasing effectively brand proximity: a beer brand case

Big international brands are sometime struggling in keeping up with relevance and proximity towards local groups of consumers. With heavy mainstream communication activities brands risk to appear as too distant. Balancing the efficiency of mainstream campaigns with local initiatives as well as keeping consistency across the different activities is an important practice. Nastro Azzurro beer recently developed a small but good example of effective proximity.

A small good example of consistent brand proximity

For those who are not familiar with Rome, Campo de’ Fiori is a square in the center of the city not far from the beautiful Palazzo Farnese and five minutes from Piazza Navona. The square hosts a nice market during the day while in the evening it transforms itself in one of the coolest places for young people. Every evening and till late at night, around the Giordano Bruno statue the square becomes full of young people who meet and enjoy spending time together.

It is within this context that Peroni Nastro Azzurro (a premium beer brand from SABMiller) decided to occupy with a big billboard the façade of an ancient building under restoration. The key point is that the ad, which follows the standard communication style used in the national tv and print campaign, is specifically talking about the square.  The complete body textferes to the square and mentions what it represents (alive 24 hours a day, the authentic Rome) and what it happens there (where people makes friends). This makes it relevant for the specific moment and for the specific situation. It brings the brand closer to what goes on there and enhances the experience for the people in the square. The impact of the ad goes beyond the natural reminder of the brand in a possible consumption occasion (the beer is available in the numerous pubs and bars along the square) and it builds up the image of Nastro Azzurro being closer and meaningful to that specific place and situation. The brand becomes “embedded” in the situation and an enhancer of the experience.

This is a good example of brand proximity in communication. It makes a brand meaningful and relevant for a specific group of consumers and brings it  alive in a specific context by means of a tailored message. Why that? Because in this case it is not just about bringing the brand in a place but making sure that it says something relevant for that specific place and occasion so to develop uniqueness and relevance.

In fact:

  • The context is consistent with the national campaign supporting the desired positioning and contributing to the brand equity.
  • The message is tailored for the specific situation and it aims at enhancing the experience.
  • The brand “support” the place and the situation but does not try to control it (it is not a sponsorship).

The Nastro Azzurro billboard in Campo De’ Fiori. It is stating “Yes, at a square you can live 24 hours on 24. Yes, to the appeal of the more authentic Rome. Yes, to the Italianized English to make friends. Yes, at a Nastro at Campo De’ Fiori. Nastro Say Yes”.

Bringing together relevance with efficiency and scale

The main issue around brand proximity is about bringing together local relevance with efficiency and scale. Adapting a message for local relevance requires in fact specific local competencies and additional costs. However an example like the Nastro Azzurro one is somehow balancing the cost with the advantages. Of course this is a small and very specific example so the challenge is how to develop and apply an approach which allows for local effective and efficient initiatives. Digital is of course offering a huge opportunity here.

At Sevendots we reviewed a series of international cases of brand proximity initiatives across different market categories. The examples include sponsorships, local communication, viral, guerrilla and digital and represent a big variety. What we noticed is that in most cases the initiatives are somehow isolated indicating a probable lack of overall strategy around these initiatives.


Visualization of proximity in marketingIn the image at the left we tried to visualize the concept of brand proximity in a simplified way. Consumers are in demand of specific relevance. Small fast boats are representing the objective of fast brand initiatives tailored for specific situations and/or group of consumers. These boats need to leave from the main ship which has to develop and sustain consistent brand equity. The connection and the consistency of local vs. mainstream activities is representing a key element of an efficient and effective process.

Evaluating the brand proximity initiatives

In order to evaluate brand proximity initiatives it may be important to analyse both the local relevance and the consistency with the mainstream brand activities. Deciding an explicit strategy based on these two variables helps developing the right activities and maximizing the expected return.

Finding the right balance for proximityConsistent proximity is the space which allows more consistent long term impact through a real interaction/reinforcement between mainstream and local activities. The Nastro Azzurro example below falls into this area.

Disruptive proximity can be used in case a very specific target is considered and were discontinuity can help building up relevance.

Mainstream focused is where the main brand activities are strong enough and do not really require a specific tailoring for increased brand proximity. This may be true either for strong executions or for specific market categories.

Lost proximity is containing mainly wrong executions of brand proximity activities.