Dutch lager Grolsch are “Celebrating 400 years of Creativity” with a collaborative international art infused brand campaign.

In a £2.7m UK campaign (which will also roll out internationally), Grolsch are working with four hundred international artists to create a plethora of material (paintings, video stings and street installations) celebrating the distinctive ‘swing top bottle’ which will, when celebrations close on 11th May 2015, be curated and combined to form limited edition packaging.

The entire suite of artwork won’t be released until May but based upon the small number of samples that can be previewed thus far, you can really see this is a vibrant gold mine of dynamic propaganda which infuses the brand with a fresh, relevant feel.

Reaching out to the creative community for a one off celebratory promotion is becoming increasingly common. Big brands are progressively reaping the benefits of a booming and diverse international creative community (both professional and hobbyist) succeeding in engaging both artist and audience. This stimulates the targeted market with fresh promotional material and the chance to personally be involved in it, which in turn increases the sense of investment with the product for the user.

This is only part of the campaign, this would all mean very little with no audience to appreciate such efforts, so in order to fully engage personally with consumers, Grolsch are marrying the above with a multifaceted experiental tour. Already underway, the tour which began in London before rolling across the country, allows guests to sample beer and create artfully crafted digital portraits of themselves which in turn can be displayed on nearby electronic hoardings (London’s being at Waterloo Station). These portraits as well as the various artworks currently released are then being successfully spread and celebrated across social media.

Also capitalising on this kind of engagement is Pepsi. As part of their “Pepsi Challenge 2015” (a huge, multi stage campaign currently running featuring several high profile celebrities and community building programmes) Pepsi are also planning to involve a thriving creative consumer base. In order to do so, the “Live for Now” design challenge has been announced, allowing prospective illustrators the chance to design their own Pepsi can and even earn an internship at the PepsiCo Design & Innovation Center in New York City.

Sticking with beverages, Coca Cola has also celebrated its 100th anniversary this year with a designer ‘mashup’ challenge called “’The Coca-Cola Bottle: An American Icon at 100.’ In a reasonably open brief, designers submitted a colour limited poster (naturally red, white and black only) celerating the iconic Coca Cola bottle. Selected winners then became part of an internationally touring art exhibition and will feature in a limited edition promotional book.

However, while Pepsi and Coca Cola have succeeded in involving the creative base worldwide, they seem to have taken a much more socially isolated route designed to captivate the only design crowd.


For me, Grolsch have been more ambitious, initially starting with a wave of creativity but then continuing with that momentum by actually appealing to the general public on a much more local and personal scale. I also think the tone of the campaign also needs acknowledging, as it avoids the potential clichéd pitfalls of a ‘underground’ creative movement whilst warmly appealing to everyone. Hopefully this trend will continue across other brands in the future and a potentially limitless fountain of creativity and interaction will be tapped, both enhancing brands themselves and enriching the marketing sphere.

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Creative Artworker

Stuart Keates