Madrí Excepcional launches first ad campaign following fast start in retail

Madrí Excepcional, the hit world lager that’s quickly become a favorite of U.K. drinkers, is out with its first ad campaign, which aims to help drinkers experience the soul of Madrid.

The ad, produced by Havas London, began airing across the U.K. and Ireland earlier this month. It is part of a $4.1 million (£3.5 million) marketing campaign – Molson Coors’ biggest ever for a premium beer in the U.K. – that also includes digital, social and out-of-home advertising.

The brand’s new campaign comes amid a wave of success since its launch in the off-trade earlier this year. The U.K.-brewed beer is a collaboration between Molson Coors and Spanish craft brewery, La Sagra, part of the Molson Coors group.

“When we looked at competitors in the world lager category and how they communicate to consumers, we noticed a lot of those brands lean into a very traditional Mediterranean space, showing what it’s like to holiday there,” says Ryan McLaughlin, Molson Coors’ marketing controller for premium beers in Western Europe. “We wanted to take tradition and move it forward in a way that’s unique to Madrí Excepcional.”

The ad, “Door Roja,” features a young man on a train with some friends. When he’s offered a bottle of Madrí Excepcional by an elusive man dressed in a black-and-white checkered vest the stylish “Chulapo” who represents el alma de Madrid, or the soul of Madrid  he’s taken on a journey, venturing through a red door that brings him to the liveliest corners of Madrid, where friends gather at an outdoor café, a street party and a bumping bar.

Filmed in Madrid, the ad aimed to portray not only the city’s spirit through the stylish “Chulapo” character, but through the colors, art and motifs that make the city’s culture unique, McLaughlin says.

As the spot hits the airwaves, Madrí Excepcional is leaving its mark across England, painting large, colorful murals in nightlife centers in London (Shoreditch), Manchester (Northern Quarter) and Birmingham (Digbeth).

The beer brand launched in the on-trade in the midst of the pandemic in 2020, but quickly attracted U.K. drinkers, winning more than 4,500 accounts in its first year; it’s now available in 9,500 venues.

In February, it debuted in retail stores, where its distinctive packaging has helped it become a hit with consumers looking to bring the Madrí Excepcional experience home.

“What we’ve seen with the launch in the on-trade has really allowed us to capitalize on the momentum that’s coming through into the off-trade,” McLaughlin says. “Demand has been great, and consumer reaction to the brand in bottles and cans has been superb.”

Its success in the on-trade, where it’s now a top-10 draught lager and the fastest-growing brand in the U.K.’s fastest-growing segment, has catapulted it over key competitors, including Camden Hells and Estrella Damm, and nipping at the heels of Heineken, according to CGA data through April 26. Its on-trade debut was the most successful beverage alcohol launch in 16 years, according to CGA.

The beer's quick start in the off-trade resulted in $7.7 million (£6.5 million) in sales through its first three months in market, according to IRI data through May 21, and the brand expects momentum to continue, McLaughlin says.

Madrí Excepcional has also proven to be a hit in other ways, too. Internet searches surpass key competitors, such as Moretti and San Miguel. Fans regularly post photos of its distinct bottles, cans and bottle tops to social media. And its distinct glassware goes missing from pubs at a startling rate, which McLaughlin says is a testament to the brand.

And while Madrí Excepcional is more accessible to U.K. drinkers than ever, its footprint is expanding later this summer, when the nation’s premiere football league kicks off: some of the league’s top clubs will be serving the beer in their stadiums.

“This beer’s a winner, and we think it’s going to be one of the top world lagers in the U.K. market very soon,” McLaughlin says.