Ahead of Ad Age's 10th Annual Small Agency Conference in New Orleans July 30-31, we'll be turning the spotlight onto standout work from the industry's tiny but mighty creative players. We begin with Callen, the Austin-based shop of about a dozen staffers founded by Wieden & Kennedy vet Craig Allen. The agency created a new campaign for Lone Star beer's new low alcohol, low-cal beer featuring ads with a totally Texan vibe.
Texas-based Lone Star beer, owned by Pabst Brewing Company, just dropped its most significant marketing push in 30 years—and it’s dripping with the luxurious laziness of a hot summer day.
The “Keeps You Texan” campaign was created by Austin-based Callen, the small shop founded by Craig Allen, the Wieden & Kennedy alum behind notable campaigns such as Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Can Smell Like” and “Responses.” It promotes Lone Star 24/7, the brand’s new low-alcohol, low-calorie brew, and features various scenarios illustrating how 24/7 is the perfect companion for enjoying the low-key splendors Texas has on offer.
The launch spot (above), for example, centers on a sole mosquito. As the camera zooms in on the bug, an easy, poetic voiceover explains how the little pest claims to “own the night.” But he won’t stop Lone Star beer drinkers from enjoying the outdoors. As a bottle of the brew smashes down on the critter, “This is Texas,” the V.O. proclaims. “We’ll go inside when we’re good and ready.”
Another spot depicts a crew of young folks sitting by a camper, chilling out as they watch the sun go down. “In Texas, we know if you stick around long enough, a fine day smooths into an even finer evening,” the voiceover says. “Case in point, the West Texas sunset. Yes, only here, can you set eyes on all its cosmic glory, because West Texas is in Texas, and that’s how geography works.”
With the witty copy set against fairly still, spare tableaux, the ads feel a bit like the love child of the classic “Miller High Life Man” campaign from Wieden & Kennedy and old spots for Corona Extra from Cramer-Krasselt, in which folks would sit around doing pretty much nothing as they sip their brew on the each. These, however, are totally Texan in vibe.
Allen explains that the challenge of the campaign was to give voice to a brand that has legendary status in Texas but has done little to communicate it. "It's like the Budweiser of Texas, and it means something when you drink one and people drink it with pride," Allen says. "We wanted something that felt true to Texas and it's weird, diverse culture without being cliche and playing into tired old Texas stereotypes."
The ads are currently running in the Texas market on broadcast and on connected TV. They also convey how the brew’s lower alcohol content helps drinkers maintain their “Texas demeanor,” no matter how long they’re hanging out by the grill or enjoying sunsets with friends. “Hopefully it makes you long for summer nights and a cold drink," Allen says.
The brew is among a slew of new lower-alcohol offerings hitting the market as booze and beer brands look to appeal to health-conscious millennials who are drinking less than their parents did.