JWT Bows First Foster’s Work

CHICAGO-Foster’s Lager is not just for Australians in the arid outback, but for modern, upscale beer drinkers, a new ad campaign by J. Walter Thompson asserts.

The Chicago agency’s first work for the Australian brewer keeps the “How to speak Australian” theme in three TV spots that break today.

The 30-second ads keep the feel of the old campaign, with the message that Foster’s is a fun beer to drink. But the similarities end there. The new spots, shot in Sydney and with Australian actors, focus on urban lifestyle rather than adventures down under and are 15 seconds longer than previous ads.

“We wanted to take the beer into a club and more contemporary situations,” said dennis Ryan, JWT’s executive creative director.

The first spot depicts a young Australian couple on their first date in a trendy bar. To break the tension, the woman crushes Foster’s trademark 24-ounce can on her forehead. Another spot depicts a man abducted from a yacht by an octopus.

Both spots continue the Australian “translations” for the action depicted on the screen. The octopus, for instance, is “calamari.”

“We wanted to tweak the campaign to appeal to more upscale drinkers and to romance the beer versus a quick one-hit of humor,” said Mike Johnson, general manager of the Foster’s brand, which is distributed in the U.S. by Miller Brewing in Milwaukee.

Print work showcases the beer by telling “Foster’s stories.” One execution tells the tale about a man who got lost traveling in the outback in 1874. The ad suggests that if Foster’s had been around, it would have quenched the man’s thirst.

The print ads will run in sports and men’s magazines. A radio campaign will air in 14 markets. The agency is currently finishing another TV spot for a Foster’s promotion offering a trip to Australia.

JWT won the Foster’s account in October, when the company restructured its North American operations and made new agreements with Miller Brewing. The shop handles the company’s Genuine Draft brand as well.

Miller is expected to spend $25 million on Foster’s advertising this year. The company spent about $8 million on advertising last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.