Anbessa Beer‘s Dilemma

There is a new brand in town and it is creating a great deal of a controversy from the get go. United beverage launched a massive campaign as an introduction to their new brand for some time now. The first sequence of Ads had no clear message of what the brand was. People took it to their imagi- nation and started speculating about what it could be. Some guessed it’s a bank, some said it’s a malt drink and some even took it way too far by saying it’s an institution that gives support to young entrepreneurs. The motto didn't help as well. Libam, loosely translated to “Courageous” gave people the idea of a great brand that helps the society and benefit those who are courageous. So after the build up which took about three months, here comes the reveal (drum roll please). It is a new beer by the name Anbessa Beer. People raised their eyebrows instantly. They expressed their feeling on social media and it was wildfire. Everyone had something to say about the beer. People demanded the government to do something about it, as the campaign was misleading; said by majority of spectators. But was it really?

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The audience saw the Ads all over the city on billboards, electronics media and other means of communications and came up with their own conclusion about what the brand is all about. United beverages did not give any implication about the type of brand. The audience simply assumed it was something else. Everyone talked about it for its creativity and everyone was disappointed after the reveal just because it was not what they expected. Mind you, the Ads just teased the audience and they created a conversation all over the country. That’s a great marketing strategy by any measurement. It’s new and it’s bold. We as a nation needed this kind of Ads as we are tired of the same old commercials on TV. But that did not stop the commercial from being banned by the government. The reason for the ban is out of the ordinary, in obvious way. The government believes that there is no scientific or ordinary proof that the alcohol in Anbessa Beer is made for courageous people. Placing a ban using that reason is downplaying creativity and not understanding the commercial’s point whatsoever.

So what went wrong? of course the Ad itself has some flaws. It made a bold statement and the execution is controversial per say. It is very open for personal interpretation as it didn’t give any guidelines to play with. It seems like the character on the commercial, Libamu, went through all those challenges and came out on top just to go to the pub and drink Anbessa Beer. That just sends the wrong message. They could've went a completely different direction and still create something special. The message they wanted to pass, this is my personal understanding, was for the guy to break through the day -to-day routine of corporate life and face the challenge that arise to come on top eventually. He then- went to his favorite bar with his fellow “Libams” and had his favorite drink which is Anbessa beer. This sends a great message and we all like to have our cold beers after a long day of hard work.

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In conclusion, all this won’t matter after a month as Ethiopia passed a law that won’t allow alcoholic beverages to promote their products on any broadcasting media (Television and Radio). The reason the government presented on why they banned the Ad is a big slap to the creative industry. However, organizations should also double check their brand’s representation in consumer’s mind when they come up with commercials. But after all publicity is publicity, I am writing about it after all. Some might support you, some will not. How you handle the challenges defines your Brand’s future. We shall see what’s going to happen to Anbessa beer’s future in the coming weeks.

Daniel Sahlu