It claims to be the world's fastest growing beer brand with sales of over 100m cases, but success for the "Australian beer" at home has evaded Fosters for the last decade. However, as Dave Robertson reports Fosters' attempts to stir up Aussie pride and Olympic fever may change all that.

Internationally, Fosters is automatically thought of as being uniquely Australian, but back home it is a minor brand struggling with the baggage of past and failed marketing campaigns.

However, Carlton United Breweries, the Fosters Group beer division, has borrowed a hugely successful Molson advertising concept to reposition Fosters Lager in its domestic market.

Fosters sells over 100 million cases of its lager globally and with sales rocketing 60% over the past five years it claims to be the fastest growing beer brand in the world. But, in Australia it has just over a 1% share of the A$6bn beer market.

The brand has languished since its former owner advertised it as a glamorous and international beer - concepts that did not sell well with Aussie drinkers.

But internationally Fosters has become known for its witty advertising and the use of the slug line: "Fosters: Australian for beer." CUB is hoping to borrow some of that international success to help re-launch the beer in its domestic market.

The company hopes that a new long-neck bottle design and ad campaign will double its market share to about 2.5%. Furthermore the company wants to target the 18 to 30-year-old age group who see Fosters as "retro-cool" and are attracted by the international success of the brand.

The new campaign will associate itself with big sporting events and the first airing of the new TV ad was during Australia's Rugby League Grand Final. The Fosters brand is also being used as the official beer of the Sydney Olympics.

But it is the new TV ad that has really got Aussie consumers talking. The ad features footage of General Peter Cosgrove (who is leading the East Timor peace keeping effort), the bombing of Darwin during WWII and the Australian cricket team.

The copy borrows heavily from a Molson advert, which promoted, and celebrated, Canadian nationalism. The Fosters ad says: "I don't have a kangaroo for a pet, I don't wrestle with crocodiles and I don't wear a cork hat… I play football without a helmet, I like beetroot on my hamburger…"

Fosters says it has had a huge response to the patriotic ads with over 30,000 hits on the ad's related website after the first TV showing. "The ad is about being a good Australian and while it has got a nationalistic tone to it, it also brings a lump to the throat," CUB spokesman David Park told just-drinks.com.

"We aim to focus the appeal of Fosters on a new generation of consumers and we believe that there is a great opportunity to grow the brand in Australia," said marketing vice-president Paul Kennedy.

"Internationally, the brand has become an unofficial symbol of Australia. Adding to the (domestic) appeal, the new "Export Quality" neck label reinforces the international credentials of Fosters Lager, and the tag line "Australia's Classic Lager Since 1888" reinforces its status as the nation's original lager," he continued.

"The emotionally involving new commercial simply encourages people to feel good about being Australian. Hopefully it will have a positive rub off on one of Australia's best known brands."

Companies: Molson, United Breweries

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