We frequently see companies making use of mobile apps to promote their brand. Either by developing their own app, such as Converse’s The Sampler or by sponsoring already existing apps, such as Procter & Gamble sponsoring SitOrSquat. Today, Carlsberg launches a different kind of branded mobile app: a non-branded app. An app with no trace of Carlsberg in the design, no green colours and no Carlsberg logo. In fact, if I weren’t telling you right now that the app is made by Carlsberg, you wouldn’t know.




Crowdit – the remote control to your nightlife

The app is called Crowdit and is a window to the city nightlife that lets people explore and discover places and events while connecting with friends to see where they are and what they are doing.  The app allows users to browse through daily vouchers for deals and offers, and when a user favourites a bar, he/she will automatically be notified when a bar is promoting new deals or vouchers. The app of course also allows users to connect their Facebook account to access friends, share activities, check-in and to see friends’ check-ins, favourites and offers redeemed. Crowdit allows the user to discover places and events via searches, routes and an augmented reality feature allowing for a real-time walkthrough visualisation of the city.

The app is launched in Denmark with around 1800 danish places already on-boarded to the platform, but Carlsberg intends to expand across global markets during 2013. This way,  clubbers and pub crawlers will be able to plan their next night out wherever they are – even when visiting new cities across the globe. In short, think of Crowdit as a Foursquare for nightlife.


Non-branded promotion

The app gives places such as bars and music venues a whole new way of connecting with their customers while it allows for Carlsberg to promote their products seamlessly. Digital Platform Manager at Carlsberg, Martin Majlund, says:

“We (Carlsberg brand portfolio) drive campaigns using the platform as a tool to drive traffic and therefore increase sales. This Christmas, Tuborg can easily promote their X-mas beer by chipping in beers that our customers then can promote. Let’s say we get 100.000 downloads in Denmark. That means that we get 100.000 potential consumers that want to claim a voucher for a X-mas beer.”

The Tuborg example demonstrates the value for a Carlsberg brand to use the app as a communications tool during a campaign to create an integrated experience for the consumer.


Why is a non-branded app of interest to the brand behind?

From a branding perspective, it is very interesting how this app is an expression of a company taking part in activities similar to those of a media company. It is about delivering value to the users by indirectly connecting them to the brand by gathering them around something relevant to both the consumers and the brand – without ever drawing attention to the brand. In fact, the Carlsberg-logo is nowhere to be found on the app.

While customers get a larger experience and can engage in social activities revolving around passion points and common interest, it opens a door for the Carlsberg brand to access their target group where they enjoy spending time. Martin Majlund explains:

”We’ve built an entire new media platform that can support all our brands – both power brands but in time also local brands in other markets. A platform that enables our customers (bars, music venues, discos etc.) to communicate with the consumers and deliver experiences with our products. Nevertheless, in order to communicate with the consumers you kind of need…. consumers! That’s why we’ve built a non-branded universe. For the consumer it’s all about the content. It’s about delivering great engaging experiences – all the time. And in order to make our customers promote their outlets by producing events and offers, it has to be with no strings attached. No branding and no restrictions on the products promoted. Basically, if they want to promote a competitor, they can.”

So, through partnerships with bars and venues, Carlsberg can easily promote and increase sales through the app. Also, by informing the places about the existence of the app and encouraging them to create a presence on the platform, it opens up for further partnerships and expands the utility of the app. It is thus advantageous for both Carlsberg and its customers: The venues drive the communication with the users without involvement from Carlsberg and deliver experiences with the Carlsberg products while attracting the crowd to their venues. ”So we’ve turned around our marketing funnel by not showing the brand, but delivering a utility that makes consumers engage with our products. I think it’s beautiful…”, Matin Majlund says.

The mobile consumer

As I wrote in a previous blog post, today’s consumers are looking to take part in experiences that they want to be involved in and share with their friends. With today’s social, mobile and local revolution, an important part of this experience takes place through the use of tools and apps and users are often connected to physical places through tools on their mobile phones. The places where people are connecting also wish to be able to reach out the users and connect with them around experiences. The Crowdit app is a great example of a company managing to connect consumers and places without being self-centred.

Other brands have made similar initiatives of non-branded apps or apps revolving around a service rather than the product behind. A very similar example, yet with an entirely different target group, is the British butter brand, Country Life’s “Great British Picnics App”, which covers every aspect of an picnic escape out in the open air, including weather forecasts, games, illustrated bird & cloud spotting guides, nature’s first aid remedies, iPhoto treasure hunts, augmented reality maps and the ability to add your own favourite spot.

By making use of non-branded apps, companies can thus remove the focus from the brand itself and instead place it on adding value to consumers through passion points and experiences surrounding the brand. What do you think of Carlsberg’s non-branded universe?

  • Anonymous

    When downloading the app in Apples App Store is does say “Carlsberg Group” under owner/creater, so I guess the consumers do have a chance of guessing who’s behind it…

    Very interesting app though!

  • I don’t think we should expect totally non-branding. At best they get the same as the Michelin Guide: No-one thinks that’s a corrupt guide looking to burn some tires driving for dinner. It’s a great guide and it makes me more interested in the Michelin brand when I am (very mildly) interested in new tires.

  • Hi Simon, thank you for the comment. I agree, this will definitely be a way of strengthening the Carlsberg brand, but by bringing the user experience into focus without overexposing the brand. It will be interesting to see if people pick up on it!

  • Hi, yes you are absolutely right, the more attentive users will of course have noticed – especially if they have installed the iOS 6 software, where the owner/creater stands more out.

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  • Kim

    Well – the Idea is cool. But honestly it does not take a lot of brain-acitivity to see who is behind it. First of all it was advertised with “Carlsberg gives a round” – second it is either Tuborg or Carlsberg products that is promoted…… It is a nice thing – but people I have talked with have forgotten about the app since there is no notification yet. You have to remember it when you are walking the streets of Copenhagen searching for a place – and believe me it is not the most obvious choice your search for.

    I have had the app since november 2012 – and so far there is no visualization. One would expect that a company like Carlsberg would present a product that was finish when they launched it. We give it a chance

  • Rasmus

    Hi great article – I was wondering if you have any references on your quotes?

  • Glenn Spenson

    Who gave you the the idea for the strategy? – Made cast aside all previous strategies and do a 180 degree turn on your marketing funnel –

    I quote:
    “So we have turned around our marketing funnel”n your marketing funnel over night?”

    (I’m just curious…,- and maybe it’s just me noticing weird stuff but)

    This is NOT something Carlsberg just do – quite the opposite…,- added to that…,- Carlsberg has a long history of corporate Brand marketing – Strategy (with a Capital B) and actually quite good at it…

    Suddenly you do a 180 – give up your brand strategies – with advertising costs, the past decade – in the millions (3-digit) …,- In order to execute a bold but creative strategy –

    A strategy you have no history – no experience on how to execute – build – maintain and/or advance – fused together with a “cloaked” back-end business supplier setup – attached with a somewhat “devious” twist (not in the article)

    Furthermore you build a platform that – in its generic composition can handle all your brands very cost effective…,- Also something you have no history or experience on creating or know how to….

    So I’m asking….. Who gave you the idea?

    ’cause it couldn’t possibly have been you!