Saturday, October 22, 2005

How not to advertise

I was walking about Copenhagen today and came across a classic example of how not to advertise:

Bad Advertising!

Do you want to drink what is claimed to be “probably” the best beer in town? I don’t, I want to drink THE best beer in town. Who thought that sign up? Sort of like trying to sell a Chevy Nova in Mexico – “no va” <-> “no go” in Spanish. “Probably the best”… Hmmm.

Anyway, very ‘raw’ weather here in Denmark – not too bad, a little misty out there but dry most of the day. I walked around for a couple of hours and took some photos. I’m staying at a hotel downtown and this is the street behind the hotel:


Not a bad view. Everything was in walking distance and I managed to not get lost (like I did for a while in Prague..). Tomorrow – I’ll be looking for something inside – while it is not supposed to rain, it won’t be warm.

I’m heading out for an evening with Mogens Nørgaard, going to try and find some good seafood – should not be too hard around here.

One gripe I have – hotels that charge for internet. Only 300dkk for a 3 day pass (about $17USD a day!). I miss my EVDO card! In the US/Canada – I have internet everywhere and usually high speed internet to boot. I don’t like paying for it in hotels. That and I had to go down to the desk and buy a scratch off card (unable to buy it directly from the room). How many times have they been out of scratch off cards during my travels – what a pain. Well, I bought the very last 3 day pass, it’ll keep me going till Tuesday afternoon. Hope they get a refill – I don’t want to have to buy 30 minute passes!


Anonymous Anonymous said....

Oracle - probably the most unbreakable database in the world :)

Sat Oct 22, 12:21:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Niall said....

"Probably the best lager (beer) in the world" has been a huge, huge success for Carlsberg over the years.

It works. people buy the beer even though its awful.

Sat Oct 22, 12:29:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Alberto Dell'Era said....

"the best beer in town" wouldn't pass my subconscious advert-filter (anyone says "I sell the best" - yeah, sure).

Adding "probably" makes the advert strange enough to trigger my curiosity - "why probably ? Ah, it's a beer ... maybe they're saying that it depends on my tastes, or ... "

And in the meanwhile, the brand sinks in the brain memory.

Sat Oct 22, 12:42:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Eirik said....

"Probably the best beer in the world" has been used as Carlsberg's slogan since the early seventies, and is widely recognized as one of the more successful slogans in marketing.

Sat Oct 22, 12:58:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

"King of Beer" is not really that convincing once you have tasted the beer with that slogan. "Probably" makes it more credible for Carlsberg. This kind of honest marketing has been popular for some years and boosted sales for several companies in Europe.

Today I installed CPU October 2005, so I imagine that the database was not unbreakable after all. It is not the marketing that makes our management continue with Oracle, but rather because "Oracle is probably the fastest and most efficient database for most of our systems", I reckon. It might not catch on among CIOs, but "DBAs are happier with Oracle" is something I can relate to - I used to work with Sybase, and have discussed MySQL, Postgres, and MSSQL with lots of people. I don't know every database in the world, but I know that I like the Oracle database.

Sat Oct 22, 01:15:00 PM EDT  

Blogger shrek said....

probably the best beer in town there is most likely a lot better than the best beer in town other places.;-0

Sat Oct 22, 01:25:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Robert said....

>> go down to the desk and buy a scratch off card

what's a "scratch off card" ?

Sat Oct 22, 01:35:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous maol said....

In Europe, comparable advertising usually isn't allowed, unless you can prove what you claim. No brewery can honestly claim that their beer is "best", because it's a matter of taste...

Sat Oct 22, 01:37:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Peter Lewis said....

If I were you I'd save myself for some fine Real Ale in Birmingham. And when you get to Belfast you really must go for a Guinness in the Crown Liquor Saloon - your visit will be otherwise incomplete!


Sat Oct 22, 01:42:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Peter Lewis said....

and the wonderful line 'Probably the most famous pub in Belfast' is there on the National Trust website for all to see...! Fabulous!

Sat Oct 22, 01:56:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous freek said....

I thought it had something to do with Ireland. When carlsberg started to advertise there, they changed their prior slogan to "probably the..." because of Guinness.

Sat Oct 22, 02:11:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Andrew Max said....

Another example of extremely inappropriate use of term "probably" is here, where they say, that:

"Tom Kyte is probably one of Oracle's best known technical employees, with vast experience of Oracle database..."


Sat Oct 22, 02:21:00 PM EDT  

Blogger David Aldridge said....

+1 for maol's comment -- it's an entirely legal matter. The rules for what claims can be made of a product are very much more loose in the USA than in Europe.

I remember when the slogan "Guinness is Good for You" was revived under the new rules (which would outlaw such a claim) as "Guinnless Isn't Good For You".

By the way, the Chevy Nova story -- illustrative but not correct:

Sat Oct 22, 04:04:00 PM EDT  

Blogger David Aldridge said....

+1 for maol's comment -- it's an entirely legal matter. The rules for what claims can be made of a product are very much more loose in the USA than in Europe.

I remember when the slogan "Guinness is Good for You" was revived under the new rules (which would outlaw such a claim) as "Guinnless Isn't Good For You".

By the way, the Chevy Nova story -- illustrative but not correct:

Sat Oct 22, 04:06:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Paul said....

Tom - if the canal trips are still on at this time of year I can recommend them. Carlsberg, it's certainly better than the American Budweiser. The Czech Budweiser Budvar, now that is the best...

Sat Oct 22, 04:24:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Mr. Ed said....

They make up for it with this giant beer bottle:

(Tuborg is now owned by Carlsberg.)

In the same square as the "probably" advertisement, there are sight-seeing buses that can take you on a half-day castle excursion, and you pass by this giant beer bottle on the way to see Hamlet's castle.

Sat Oct 22, 05:38:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Connor McDonald said....

Just tell Mogens

a) you didn't like Carlsberg
b) you want to sample some of the products from Miracle breweries (Mogen's own)

and you'll get on like a house on fire.



Sun Oct 23, 12:28:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Grant said....

Tom - I guess the massive Carlsberg advertising campaign never made it over the pond but its a huge and very successful campaign and when/if you see the advertisments you'll maybe get the sublte humour that "probably" adds...infact its almost become iconic in terms of the "probably" now crops into other advertisments humour and language. There was a similar campaign for the Skoda car in the UK (Skoda had a name for rubbish cars) where they used the tag line "Honestly, its a Skoda" - recognising the fact that they know they have a reputation of making rubbish cars...

Sun Oct 23, 02:58:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

This was cool -- learned two things

a) the marketing slogan "worked" (I still find it funny - strange. Not something I would have predicted to be successful)

b) the chevy nova story is not true.

what is a scratch off card

It is a pre-paid card with "scratch off" areas (like an instant lottery ticket) that have a username and password to be used for internet access.

Sun Oct 23, 04:08:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Howard J. Rogers said....

Come off it, Tom!

We've done the "I am the leading Oracle Expert in the World" stuff.

Personally, if the relevant pages said "I am PROBABLY the leading Oracle Expert in the World", I'd count that a success!!

Modesty in all things. Even in beer...

Sun Oct 23, 04:11:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Howard - but the only thing marketing and modesty have in common is that they both start with M and have an E about halfway through :)

Sun Oct 23, 05:33:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Ontario Emperor said....

Paying for internet access is...probably...something that should go away. Ironically, free internet seems to be more prevalent in motels that DON'T cater to business. I was driving across the country in early August and found free internet in nearly every hotel. I had to interrupt my vacation for a business trip to Dallas...and had to pay for Internet at the business hotel. If a business can get away with charging for something, they will.

Back to "probably" - does this have anything to do with the fact that the advertisement is not in the local native language?

Mon Oct 24, 01:07:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Borkur said....

As maol pointed out, most European countries forbid ads to use slogans that can not be backed by facts. Using words like 'probably' have often been used to circumvent that rule. I recall a case of vodka brand being banned in the US since it didn't contain what it said it did: Black Death. The ban didn't last long though ...

Mon Oct 24, 06:54:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Christo Kutrovsky said....

Me been european, "probably" sounds much better and calls for a "come see for your self" behaviour.

I am tired of "the best" and "the king" and etc.

Its probably the best, but come see for your self, we just know we wont be able to please everyone, but it's probable you will be pleased.

This sounds much more credible to me ... :)

Mon Oct 24, 11:31:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Rob H said....

Carlsbergs campaign did come "over the pond", at least in Canada (not sure if we count).

I personally like the beer, its quite good. Also, another good beer to try is an Irish beer called Caffrey's (at least in my opinion)

Mon Oct 24, 05:05:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Mon Oct 24, 06:00:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous asktom coookie said....

If you want to r ead a really interesting book on advertisement read Ogilvy on Advertisement, You'll enjoy it.

Tue Oct 25, 08:25:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

"probably the best..": Is it realistic to expect that there is such a thing as "the best beer"? No. I kind of like this "relativistic" approach - even in ads.
Does it change my consumer behaviour - I doubt ("probably" not, at least not on conscious level:-)

Tue Oct 25, 09:25:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Jeff Moss said....

...can't wait to see how many pints of Carlsberg appear at your place at the bloggers dinner table next week!

Probably best if you bring your drinking trousers!


Tue Oct 25, 09:29:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Kishan said....

Well...talking about beers, this is how they look under microscope. Maybe you'd be interested..

Wed Oct 26, 01:49:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Also, I believe there are two legality/long-term issues:

In Denmark and some of Europe 'unfair' marketing is illegal. Claiming to be the best *could* spark a requirement that they prove it. This could never be proved - for real - but would obviously provide some PR in itself. Carlsberg is pretty well known for pushing the envelope in this area.

However, I believe that another long-term strategy lies behind this: At times, there has been talk to ban beer-ads just as tobacco ads have been banned in recent years. Their long running strategy with "Probably the best beer in the world..." as a text beneath a picture, very distinctly styled, of some beautiful spot on earth, with the Carlsberg logo somewhere in sight, could be preparing for this. I guarantee that given the same kind of picture without the Carlsberg van in it and with just the word "Probably..." would make many people complete that sentence in their minds and remember the brand.

Wed Oct 26, 04:59:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Lindsay Lohan said....


Tue Oct 31, 01:05:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Lingeries said....


Tue Oct 31, 01:15:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Cat said....


Tue Oct 31, 01:16:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Cruise said....


Tue Oct 31, 01:16:00 AM EST  

Blogger dannyboy said....

tom. youre a moron.
probably..., for those with the cerebral activity to get the ironic slant, is one of the best slogans advertisers have yet developed. maybe in america things need to be spelled out, like one is talking to a 2 year old, but here in europe we actually can read between the lines and see below the surface

Sat Dec 22, 07:04:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Proveright said....

Probably the best beer in the world ! Not!

5 pubs go out of business every day in the UK, now a brewery is closing. Quote from: - 05.11.2008
170 jobs go in brewery closure plan
170 jobs are to go as Carlsberg closes Leeds brewery"

Drinks giant Carlsberg is planning to close a historic brewery in the UK with the loss of 170 jobs.

The company blamed falling consumption, higher duties and regulatory pressure for the decision to shut its Leeds site in 2011.

Consultation with the workers will start immediately and Carlsberg said it will seek to redeploy staff where possible as well as help others find new jobs.
There has been a brewery on the site in the city since 1822 when it used to produce just Tetley beers.
The brewery now produces Tetley and Carlsberg and is one of two owned by Carlsberg. The other site is at Northampton.
Nick Webb, supply chain director of Carlsberg UK, said: "We are announcing the closure proposal more than two years in advance so that our employees are able to prepare for the future.

Wed Nov 05, 05:48:00 AM EST  


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