Antonio Giansante, Managing Director, BGN


We were introduced to a contact at Carlsberg and met for a speculative chat, in a pub in Leeds. The timing was perfect and they actually had a pitch out with a few agencies. They said we could be involved but warned us that even if they loved what we did, it would be a lengthy process to go through procurement and get a vendor number and actually be able to work with them.

As we were still in our first year of business, far from being busy and this was Carlsberg. We thought why not. Let’s give it a go. If anything it will be great for the team to work on a big name brand for a few days.

When it came to the pitch, we were armed with two brand names and two rough creative ideas. Everything went ok, initial feedback was good but we didn’t put too much pressure on it.

A few weeks went by and i’d lost hope really on the pitch and had started to think that the opportunity had gone. When I received the call saying that they would love to work with us.

As luck would have it, one of our names was their working title for the project and one of the ideas was pretty close to the internal mood boards that they had put together. In 10 years of pitching, that had never happened before.

So after I had finished doing a Brian Kidd style celebration down the Neo corridor, I realised that we still had to complete all of the procurement documentation.

That then started about 2 months of pulling all sorts of information together, going on first aid courses and putting all sorts of procedures in place. I’ll never forget that first aid course. A 6ft5 farmer put me in the recovery position and gave me the kiss of life.

I learnt a lot about myself and the procurement process involved with working with big organisations in that time.

When it came to the project, Carlsberg had conducted some consumer research into their existing trade wine and spirits offerings. It became clear that very few of Crown Cellars’ customers know how broad the brand’s offering was. As far as they were concerned, Crown Cellars were wine merchants – ignoring their expertise in spirits entirely. It was time to create a brand that complemented the Crown Cellars’ brand, without being beholden to it.

Our objectives in this project were twofold, therefore. Positioning the new brand as a premium spirits wholesaler (with a name to match) and appropriately leveraging the Carlsberg UK brand for a smooth launch internally and externally.

We were tasked with educating people within Carlsberg, in particular the sales teams as to why we had separated Distilled from Crown Cellars and how the new brand was to be positioned. The collaboration with the Thinking Drinkers (drinks columnists for the Daily Telegraph, Times, Guardian, Time Out London, Conde Nast Traveller) allowed us to add credibility to the brand and position it as a more contemporary high end spirits brand.

The first touchpoint that everyone received from the new brand was the new annual. No longer a listings brochure and some information on key spirits. We transformed it into a lifestyle magazine about the spirits industry with headline articles produced by the Thinking Drinkers. Each article having its own personality and not being limited by strict brand guidelines.

The launch was a success internally and anecdotal feedback from the trade was extremely positive at the Northern Bar & Restaurant show and Imbibe. We went onto create a new website, direct mail, launch campaign, social media content, quarterly print pieces and events materials.

We are now over 2 years into our relationship with Carlsberg and it really was the project and the win that changed our agency. To win a client of that calibre at the end of our first year really was a stand out moment. Not only are they a big name but the projects we have worked on have been great. They give us a lot of creative freedom which is amazing and we are really proud of the work we have produced and continue to produce.