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It’s raining beer

A $1 million dollar commercial inspired by Monty Python and featuring an army of people working together to induce the heavens to rain beer on them is the centrepiece of an ambitious marketing campaign by the state’s biggest-selling tap beer.

The bizarre yet bold ad for Tooheys New depicts teams of people using huge catapults to propel sacks of malt, hops and even a solitary stag into the stratosphere in order to satisfy the beer gods.

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A still from the Tooheys New beer commercial

Set to the jaunty theme tune of The Great Escape, the ad is Tooheys’ riposte to last year’s Big Ad, which proved a runaway success for its new rival in the $5.3 billion full-strength beer market, Carlton Draught.

The new ad also provides evidence that today’s marketers are turning to entertainment rather than the hard sell to get their message across.

It purposely eschews traditional beer advertising cues: namely men standing around in bars telling jokes and drinking beer.

David Nobay, executive creative director at the ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi, said: "Frankly, our focus was less on responding to Big Ad than in getting away from the cliches in beer advertising where a bunch of bogans at a bar drag their knuckles down the other end to tell tit jokes to their mates."

For the making of the ad - reported to have cost $1 million to produce - 30-foot-high catapults were wheeled through Melbourne streets and even hauled to the top of buildings.

The act of propelling objects in to the sky along with the transformation of 200 extras into thousands, was less to the wizardry of computer-generated special effects.

Later today, brewer Lion Nathan will set in train a viral marketing campaign when it emails a web address to thousands of staff and customers, allowing them to view the ad and pass it on.

Last year, Carlton United Breweries used this strategy to launch Big Ad. In the first 24 hours of its viral life, Big Ad was seen by 160,000 people. The Tooheys ad will go to air on TV on Sunday.

Tooheys hopes to put some distance between it and VB with which it has vied for the top spot in the NSW beer market for the past decade.

Last year, Tooheys’ share fell by one percent in the state.

Sidney Morning Herald - 14 February 2006
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