Sjors van Drie – Bud

Sjors van Drie – Bud

Sjors van Drie is the Senior Brand Manager at Bud in the Netherlands. Together with his colleagues he is responsible for the launch of the brand as of last year, and building the brand in the Netherlands. Sjors: “Our way of introduction has been very bold, and fits the brand perfectly. In the Netherlands, the market is dominated by local, down to earth beer brands. Which is quite unique for the beer market, and doesn’t necessarily fit with the trends we see such as globalisation, urbanisation and mixed gender. Things that aren’t reflected in the pilsner market. So, we decided to introduce Bud. The biggest driver in the market is taste, so one of our main tasks is to explain that our taste is quite different from regular pilsner. Once people know about it, they expect it, and the reactions have been very positive since.”

Main ingredients for growth

Bud is the second fastest growing brand in the supermarket in 2019. Sjors: “When you first start, growth is your only driver. If you don’t grow, you’re simply not present. At the beginning, it’s very much about penetration, getting people to try and get to know your product, and your brand. It’s important to build the brand and grow the brand values. Grow in awareness, consideration and communicate in a huge way. Next to that, we have a lot of partnerships ranging from fashion, to art, to sponsoring, organising events and developing talent. We try to be a facilitator for young and local talent in the Netherlands. For us, it’s very important to build credibility amongst our target group. We want to be the most credible beer brand of the Netherlands.”

Sjors explains that Bud wants to be more inclusive than they feel is happening in the market right now. “Bud is interesting for everyone. The taste is accessible, and much smoother compared to other beer brands. We are therefore widening the potential customers, as women for example often think beer tastes too bitter. Next to that, Bud stands out and communicates in a bold and confident way. This fits the younger target audience. But it’s also about the young mindset. Whether it’s someone aged 36, or aged 58, it’s the mindset that matters. We’re sharing a different sound than the mainstream is communicating, but at the same time, a sound very fitting of the target group.”

Credibility through creativity

Sjors feels that creativity is very much connected to being original, being different and standing out. “For Bud, creativity is mostly found in our creative partnerships. Creativity isn’t something you should do on your own. That’s why we’re convinced you need to find the right partnerships to do it. An example is when we launched Bud X, a platform representing partnerships and creativity. And Bud X Amsterdam, a two-day event where we combine new talent with more established artists. As a brand, you have to facilitate different events and initiatives in order to build that credibility.”

“When we see all the other brands in the market going a certain way, it strengthens us to go the complete opposite direction.”

Creative process

Bud gains a lot of inspiration for their creatives from other countries. Sjors: “Because we are an international brand, we can learn a lot from the countries we’re already present. We are the number one beer brand in the world, so in most countries we are market leader. America is a great example. The ambition, proudness, culture of sharing is something I find very interesting, and the creative process often starts with ambition. You set out to do something because you have a certain level of ambition. It doesn’t necessarily mean you want to make money or sell more beer; an ambition can also be to present the diversity in your partnerships. I’ve learned from other countries how you can get very far with an outspoken ambition. We are a beer brand, but we can play a broader role.”

According to Sjors, Bud also looks towards the market and its developments. “We look at what other brands are doing and the things that are already happening. Where the market is shifting towards. In the pilsner market we see a shift to a lower energy, as we like to call it. In a dark pub, a few nibbles, fireplace, on the sofa. That’s the craft beer vibe. And it makes sense, because craft beer is a huge trend. Pilsner is moving towards that. But you can’t forget that pilsner also represents party, festival, club, high energy. That’s something that has strengthened us. It’s already in our brand, fits our DNA and the taste of our beer. When we see all the others going a certain way, it strengthens us to go the complete opposite direction. The market is definitely an external factor influencing our creative process.”

A talkable initiative

When it comes to testing their creatives, Sjors explains that Bud uses research in every phase. “We test the big creatives such as for TV, out of home and digital campaigns. Next to that, we look at our brand assets and how to activate the consumer to take us into consideration. Research is key here. We’ve also done focus groups, and have tested our tone of voice – whether we need to advertise in Dutch or in English – through quantitative research. So, we’ve validated everything. The question is how creative this all really is. Of course, you always add your own touch, but what is creative? I think it’s the combination of how we communicate, how we buy media, how we do things differently.”

Sjors: “When it comes to media, we have specifically chosen for a ‘talkable initiative’. We can put a tiny poster in a restroom with ‘the king of beers is finally here’, but we can also put it on a huge billboard in Amsterdam, which we have done repeatedly. They communicate the same message, but in a very different way. It’s important to stand out, both in your communication and the media you deploy. But you can also stand out through consistency. Continuing to innovate and building your brand within a certain framework, is very creative. With Bud, we try to stand out, be bold and communicate in a confident and different way. But in advertising, creatives also need to be effective, and lead to something. A large part of our efforts go into our partnerships, which are projects for the long term. I think there’s a lot of creativity in that. But it isn’t as measurable.”

The tip of the iceberg

Sjors explains that Bud is still introducing itself to the consumer: “You have to take a few years to introduce yourself, but along the way you can add some more depth. We are going to communicate more about how we taste, and what the brand stands for, stimulating creative partnerships and our outspoken ambition. There is a lot more to the brand than we’ve shown thus far. In the upcoming years, we’ll be moving towards that more and more.”

Disclaimer: This interview was held prior to the Covid-19 crisis.