A taste of la dolce vita: Will the Continental touch boost beer sales?

Beer brands are looking to their European heritage to inspire chic ad campaigns.

Azione!" director Gabriele Muccino cries. Effort-lessly elegant Italians wander across a bridge; some stop to look at market stalls. Others chat with friends or lovers. All are clad in Moschino: sharp suits, bowler hats, berets and heels. The camera follows a solemn girl with red lips, carrying a suitcase across the cobbled bridge, being chased by her lover.

The scene is from a five-minute short for cinema release that is part of the new advertising campaign for the Italian beer Peroni Nastro Azzurro. Entitled "Senza Tempo" ("Timeless"), it shows an Italian film director remembering lost love. The brand is seen on the side of the lorry and on a café awning, and is also evidently the drink of choice of the film's heroine – the references are subtle in comparison with the pack shot concluding many a brand advert.

Muccino, who directed Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happyness, says he worked on the Fellini-inspired film because he enjoys the challenge of telling "a complete story" in limited time: "The style is sharper and denser" than working on a feature film.

Ian Cassie, creative director of the Bank advertising agency, which is behind the campaign, says the brand is not trying to compete with mass-market north European beers, which typically play on football and blokes having a laugh in a pub. Instead, it offers a stylish Italian dream (although in Italy the beer is more associated with sport, and sponsored the Italian World Cup squad).

Peroni Nastro Azzurro's positioning in the market as an "authentic Italian beer" means it is perfectly placed to remind people "of the style and glamour Italy has brought to the world," Cassie says. That love for Europe's glamorous side has long held appeal for UK consumers. "It started in the Sixties when Italy started to export style: Vespas, Italian suits – people really loving Italy," he says.

Cassie thinks the film, which stars Francesco Scianna and Gioia Marzocchi and was made by Muccino's team with help from up-and-coming British film talent, succeeds in "looking and sounding Italian".

Peroni Nastro Azzurro isn't the only beer offering a European dream. Stella Artois in part credits its French-dream-in-a-tin advertising strategy for that beer's 6.6 per cent surge in sales in the second quarter of 2009. In what was widely seen as an attempt to throw off the brand's "wife beater" soubriquet, advertising for the lower- alcohol Stella Artois 4% created by the Mother agency draws on Sixties French Riviera glamour. This summer's television campaign compares the unrushed attention to detail needed to pull the perfect glass of Stella to a French woman languidly applying make-up; it concludes with the strapline: "She is a thing of beauty."

Few will guess that Stella Artois is a Belgian brand marketing itself as French. While authentic provenance is often crucial to brands, a romanticised heritage is common in the crowded beer category and does not necessarily undermine success: "Indian" brand Cobra, for example, was founded in Fulham, west London. Kronenbourg 1664 last year returned to emphasise its French heritage with its campaign comparing the Eiffel Tower to the beer's Goût à la Française ("French-style taste"): "It's a bit more than an antenna; it's a bit more than a beer."

The European dream has lost none of its glamour for UK consumers over the decades – just as long as that image of Europe doesn't get confused with Brits abroad in Europe. San Miguel's advertising has historically drawn on its Spanish heritage, but while some British consumers associated the beer with stylish destinations such as Madrid and Barcelona, for others it was linked with the Costa del Sol. The Spanish passion evoked by the advertising was therefore intended to steer beer drinkers firmly towards a Spanish dream, rather than the less stylish images conjured by the Costas.

Selling beer isn't that much to do with the drink's taste, it seems. "Brahma [beer] plays on its Brazilian heritage; Sol and Corona both play [Mexican] sun and sea really well," says Cassie. "Peroni Nastro Azzurro is taking it further, reminding people what they love about Italy."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value

Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

Ashdown Group: Analyst Programmer (Filemaker Pro/ SQL) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days, pension, private medical : Ashdown Group: A highly...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chessington

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Service Desk Analyst - Chessington, Surrey...

Charter Selection: Graphic Designer, Guildford

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Charter Selection: This renowned and well establish...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas