Affligem’s ‘Make Beer, Not War’ Ad Tells the Mostly True Story of Its Founding 1,000 Years Ago

The spot marks the Belgian brand's first national ad push in the Netherlands

The brewery was founded by six knights-turned-monks in 1074. Affligem

Over the last 50 years, the U.S. has added more than 8,000 breweries, according to the Brewer’s Association.

While the proliferation of craft microbreweries is changing the stateside beer game, there’s really no way any American brewer can compete with Belgium—or Europe as a whole—when it comes to the legacy those brews have as part of their brand identity.

Affligem, one of the world’s oldest breweries, is highlighting its long and storied history in a new ad in the Netherlands. It’s the Heineken-owned Belgian brand’s first foray into national advertising for its northern neighbor. As part of the introduction of this marketing effort, the brand has gone back to its roots.

According to Affligem, it was founded by six knights-turned-monks in 1074. For context, that’s just after the Tower of London was built. It’s also a few decades after the Byzantine Empress Zoe poisoned her husband, Romanus III. It’s worth pointing out that the brewery’s founding occurred about 20 years before the Crusades kicked off.

Anyway, the new spot, created by Alfred International and directed by Bart Timmer, revisits Affligem’s inception. That moment seems to have been rare for that century: It all started when one of those six knights decided to choose peace over violence. (Well, either that or he just really got fed up with his job.)

After getting a pretty annoying sword cut in yet another one of his shirtsleeves, the knight sits down with a beer and his buds to talk through options. While sipping on that brew in the midst of a battlefield in Affligem, Belgium, the group comes to a decision: Making beer would be a lot better than all this.

“The story of Affligem felt like an adventure book, packed with fantastic ingredients for film,” said Marc Scholten, marketing manager for Heineken Netherlands, in a statement. “The medieval setting, Affligem originating from Affligem, the Flemish accent, knights making a career move to become monks … and a powerful message: ‘Make beer, not war.'”

The advertising push comes after two years of impressive growth for Affligem in the Netherlands, as the brand’s total volume doubled within the country during that time period. Last year, the brewery launched its first non-alcoholic beer in the Netherlands: Affligem Blonde 0.0, which is also the brew that the ad’s actors drank during filming.

The new spot will run on Dutch television as well as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.


@klundster kathryn.lundstrom@adweek.com Kathryn Lundstrom is Adweek's breaking news reporter based in Austin.
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