Probably the most honest ad campaign in the world

Continuing our exploration of corporate responsibility in marketing, Claire Baldwin looks at Carlsberg’s new honest stance. With a tone-of-voice overhaul and an updated slogan, can honest marketing increase your brand’s value? Probably.

You’re surely familiar with Carlsberg’s slogan “Probably the best beer in the world.” It’s a little arrogant, it’s catchy, and it gives the audience clear expectations of the product.

However, the Danish beer brand has finally admitted that Carslberg is probably not the best beer in the world. In fact, they’ve gone a step further and, in a bold move of turning negatives into selling points, they’ve shared some of their customers’ harsh comments about their product on social media. 


These include claims that Carlsberg tastes like “stale breadsticks” or “drinking the bathwater your nan died in”. Catchy, but not particularly enticing.

The new campaign has turned the original, familiar slogan on its head, stating: “Probably not the best beer in the world. So we've changed it.”

Let’s take a look at why it’s created such a buzz.

Honesty is always the best policy

According to Carlsberg’s vice president of marketing, Liam Newton:

"At Carlsberg UK, we lost our way. We focused on brewing quantity, not quality; we became one of the cheapest, not the best. In order to live up to our promise of being 'probably the best beer in the world', we had to start again. We've completely re-brewed Carlsberg from head to hop."

This brutal honesty in marketing is as refreshing as a cold pint on a hot day.


While a big part of product marketing is trying to portray a desirable product that alludes to a perceived lifestyle, customers ultimately don’t want to be lied to. You can only go so far in your claims before people notice that you’re not living up to your end of the deal.

No matter what industry you’re in, whether you sell products or services, customers have a certain expectation of your brand. That expectation is deeply rooted in the marketing that you put in front of them. 

By acknowledging customers’ negative feedback in such a transparent manner, Carlsberg have held up their hands and admitted that what they’re doing isn’t good enough. Honesty and trust go a long way when it comes to customer relations.

The stats are pretty telling

Take a look at these statistics on reputation management, taken from StatusLabs:

78% of consumers trust peer recommendations while only 14% trust advertising 

Let’s face it; we all know that advertising exists to make people buy things.

It’s no surprise that consumers trust their peers over a company’s professionally workshopped slogan. If an advert tells you that Carlsberg is probably the best beer in the world, but your mate tells you that it tastes like stale breadsticks, who are you more likely to believe?

More than 80% of reputation damage comes from a mismatch between the buzz and the reality

If you tells consumers that your product is something that it’s not, there’s bound to be backlash.

People are easy to disappoint, and the more you build up someone’s expectations, the more you’re putting your reputation on the line. Don’t make false claims, and don’t make claims that you can’t live up to.

70% of complaining customers will do business with you again if you resolve the complaint in their favour

This is exactly what Carlsberg’s campaign has set out to do.


By addressing their customers’ (scathing) complaints and publically pledging to do something about the problem, Carlsberg has shown their customers that they are listening. It’s likely that many of the beer’s former drinkers will try the new version simply to see whether the brewery has lived up to its word.


We believe in sincere marketing

Here at DWH, we always tell it like it is, and we’d never encourage you to do anything but. We’ll work together to get to know your brand’s strengths and ethos, ensuring that all of your marketing collateral is in alignment. 

Get in touch now to discuss your next marketing campaign.



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Claire has over 10 years' copywriting experience across a range of print and digital media, working with a variety of styles, formats and tones of voice. She has written as part of an in-house team client side, as well as at marketing agencies based in the East Midlands. Claire's services include copywriting, copy editing, content creation and proofreading.