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news / In conversation with Thom Darlow, creative director, Colenso BBDO

In conversation with Thom Darlow, creative director, Colenso BBDO

Spikes Asia talks to Darlow about the Creative Effectiveness Spike-winning 'I’m Drinking It For You' campaign.

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Thom Darlow, Creative Director, Colenso BBDO

Title of the work:

I’m Drinking It For You


Thom Darlow
Creative director
Colenso BBDO

Please provide a brief summary of 'I’m Drinking It For You'.

Tasked with launching a low-carb beer into a category full of chiseled men bragging about how low carby their beers are, we knew we had to do something different.

When we examined the audience, we found that it’s not elite athletes and catwalk models drinking low carb beers, it’s ordinary folks living in the suburbs. People who stay in shape for their significant other.

For them, drinking our beer is a selfless romantic gesture.

And name something more romantic than a Meatloaf style R&B ballad about all the romantic things one can do for their partner, whilst holding a beer.

Launched on Valentine's Day, 'I’m Drinking It For You' is a full song and music video that made drinking beer into a selfless romantic act. It ran on all music platforms, had a digital component that let people write thier own lyrics for their partner. And singing telegrams.

No. 2 on Apple Music No. 1 new product launch of 2019 in any category 0.5% market share in two weeks Highest brand attribution for an ad Google has ever seen, globally. Which isn’t bad for a product called ‘DB Export Gold Extra Low Carbohydrate Beer’.


Tell us why your team decided to enter 'I’m Drinking It For You' into the Creative Effectiveness Spike.

It still baffles us how well this campaign performed. We all know how creativity can influence the efficacy of campaigns, but the making of this piece felt like pure creative indulgence. We made exactly what we wanted to make creatively, crafting a piece we’d want to share with our friends and family, whilst staying close to the truth of the product. For those reasons, winning a Spike feels like an immense achievement, but it stands as validation of what we do, and what we love to do. Creative work works! It threads your product into culture. It makes people care about who you are and what you do. And it shifts units. We are over the moon.

Every team has their own way of coming up with a campaign idea. In the case of 'I’m Drinking It For You', how was the idea conceived?

I’m a creative, so I am biased. Haha. But strategy set us up with just the most unbelievable insight: that drinking a low carb beer can be a selfless act of love. Perfect! Our CCO Levi Slavin floated the idea of doing a romantic music video, and as an ex-touring musician I went home and wrote a song about it on Garageband in my bedroom that night. Beth O’Brien, my creative partner, and I worked on the lyrics, and within a day we had a working demo.

We sent it to one person in our account management team, and the next day heard a completely different person singing it in the work kitchen. Then another person at their desk. Then another person in the bathrooms. It had been shared around the entire office in 24 hours. That’s when we knew we were onto something.

As a winner of the Creative Effectiveness Spike, can you elaborate on how I’m drinking it for you drove long-term tangible business results, was instrumental to cultural change or integral in the achievement of brand purpose?

Two years on, DB Export Gold Extra Low Carb is the leading beer in the low carb category. And the category is the fastest growing beer category in the country. The halo effect of this campaign grew the rest of DB’s portfolio by 2%. We know that because this was their only work in market at the time.

“When creativity is effective and effective work is creative, it has even greater power to positively impact people, brands and the world.” What are your thoughts on this statement?

Highly creative work isn’t just effective because it helps your brand stand out, it’s effective because it destroys indifference. It makes people care enough about what you’re doing to choose your product over the identical one sitting on the shelf next to it. Making the logo bigger, and drowning your ad in brand codes lets people know you exist, but it’s creativity that makes them care. That proves you understand them. That gets them excited enough to tell their friends. Creativity drives resonance, and resonance drives growth.

Can you spotlight a recent piece of work done by your team that encapsulates the perfect partnership of - creativity at its heart but driven by marketing effectiveness?

Our recent ‘Friend-vertising’ campaign for Skinny mobile is a great example of this kind of thinking. A Neilson report found that 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family over advertisements. So, for a small telco with an adoring customer base, we didn’t run ads selling Skinny to the nation, we got our customers to, by making each the star of their very own full-production, nationwide ad-campaign for Skinny. Which was targeted directly to their friends and family. As a result, our ads reached 98% of the nation in just three weeks, and produced 6% growth across their customer base. Crazy numbers.


The Spikes Asia Awards is open for entries.