Carlsberg Football Goes Back to 1994


Project Scope

Production, Strategy, Search & Performance Media, Social & Content, Creative, Client Services


Back To ‘94 – Carlsberg Football

The year is 1994. Ireland are about to kick off their opening group game against Italy in the blistering heat of the Giants stadium in New York. The hopes and dreams of a nation lie at the feet of legends Bonner, Townsend, McGrath… and Tommy Coyne. The streets up and down the country are empty before kick off with every house and pub jammed with wide-eyed supporters who dare to dream. All in it together, not just fans but as an army… Jackie’s army.

Fast forward 20 years to Brazil 2014. We soon realised, via social listening, that Irish fans were wishing we had qualified and were pining for the times when we played in World Cups (1990, 1994 and 2002), and that the 1994 World Cup in particular was VERY special to fans.

As mentioned in our blog post about brands at Brazil 2014, there was a huge fight to grab our attention during Brazil 2014 with Messi and Ronaldo flogging the latest Adidas and Nike wares. In the new connected world, social activity has increased dramatically during global sports tournaments – the Germany Vs Argentina game was the most Tweeted about sports event of all-time. We aimed to tap into this and offer something unexpected that would stand out from the crowd for Carlsberg Football.

Our monthly social reporting indicated that nostalgic content is always amongst that highest performing content with the Carlsberg Football community. We coupled this knowledge with the fact that Carlsberg are a brand that’s known for making dreams come through, such as the recent Join The Greats campaign.

We then proactively approached Carlsberg with an idea. This idea aimed to cut-through the conversation in a witty and entertaining way, whilst NOT stepping in to the Budweiser territory and NEVER mentioning the words “World Cup” – as Carlsberg were not official beer to World Cup. We aimed to enable Carlsberg to have share of voice during a World Cup for the first time ever.

Our idea involved transforming the Carlsberg Football Facebook page back 20 years to USA ‘94 from approx. June 12th to July 13th. This was a first for Ireland. The page effectively entered a time-machine and emerged 20 years ago, with the Carlsberg signature wit.


Plan of Action

The strategy and plan was simple. We aimed to post visually engaging content in chronological order matching the same dates of games and stand-out moments that occured during Ireland’s journey through the tournament. From launch day, we could see that the community were reacting to this idea with large scale engagement and buy-in to the concept.


Variety of Content

Thanks to our resident USA ‘94 experts, we had an endless pool of information to work from. From simple add the caption competitions, where we purchased actual World Cup ‘94 merchandise and tickets, to bespoke illustrated social objects, Back To ‘94 was brought to life. This led to user generated content with people posting photos of themselves at the matches from 20 years ago. The campaign also led to discussion on the cringeworthy fashion trends and haircuts of that period. This was exactly the interaction and engagement we hoped to build throughout the campaign with people telling their story of USA ‘94. The highest performing piece of content was a Paul McGrath disallowed goal video GIF which had the highest engagement rate and reached 49,000 people.

Being agile with content was also an important element of this campaign. On the day that Garth Brooks announced that his five nights in Croke Park were cancelled we saw the opportunity to tap into this conversation and we posted the below which reached 20,000 people with no spend and using a free to use image.



The Back To ‘94 campaign led to June being the highest engaged month for Carlsberg Football for 2014. The use of strong visual content resonated with the Carlsberg Football community along with various competitions each week. 1 in 11 users that saw Back To ‘94 content engaged with it.

Over 400,000 users were reached, there was 13,000 total video views and over 5,000 Likes, Comments and Shares – a record for any other campaign for Carlsberg Football. Our Social and Performance Media teams worked together on this campaign and the overall total paid/targeted spend was minimal.

The end result was that we transported fans back 20 years to a better time in Irish football and allowed a brand to have real share of voice during a major sports event for the first time. A pretty big achievement without the use of a DeLorean – if we do say so ourselves.

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