Interview | Oliver Wills, Marketing Manager of Bavaria

After our recent give away for Bavaria’s ‘Designated Driver’ campaign, we decided to dig a little deeper and find out what it’s all about what they’re trying to achieve with it. We got in touch with Oliver Wills, the Marketing Manager for Bavaria, to see what he had to say about the ‘Cheers’ campaign, the massive rise in Sober Bars and events, Bavaria’s full range and much more. Enjoy this in-depth interview into the world of non-alcoholic drinking and sober living.

MCBN: Let’s get straight into the Bavaria Designated Driver campaign that’s being pushed out this December. We all know how busy, dangerous and deadly the roads become. What is the aim of this campaign?

OW: The campaign aims to provide a continuous message of responsible drinking as our duty as leading non-alcoholic brand in South Africa. December is the festive season, the height of Summer and holiday celebrations – it’s a reminder to have fun but in a mindful way.  If you are drinking, we want to remind consumers to please use a taxi service, and then appreciate the act of service from the taxi driver himself.

MCBN: Can you give us a deeper understanding of the “Cheers” campaign?

OW: The “Cheers to” campaign salutes the everyday heroes of South Africa and aims to highlight those around us that deserve an epic salute, by showing their dedication and sacrifice for their passions. The campaign was launched at the Comrades Marathon saluting Maurice Rosen, who was attempting his 36th consecutive race. The campaign’s series continued as we saluted a pregnant mother during Women’s month and then a final piece on the need state of responsible drinking and driving this December.

MCBN: Taxi drivers are the ones who get us home safely after a night out. You created this beautiful short film about one of South Africa’s many hard-working taxi drivers. We’re big fans of the concept behind this, could you give us a deeper look into the video, how it was conceptualised to the launch and roll-out of this campaign?

OW: When we decided to salute a designated driver, we had a few options. For example, one of the options was to salute that mate that opts not to drink and get his mates home after a night out. Whilst we salute this everyday day hero, he or she does not sacrifice time with his loved ones and family day-in and day-out to ensure that strangers make it home safely to said loved ones. We know taxi drivers have a bad rap in South Africa. Yes, there are the bad apples – but there are also good guys. The guys who make the sacrifice for us, the guys who get us home safely, the guys who have to deal with us when we are intoxicated. The non-alcoholic category is not about not drinking alcohol. It is about responsible drinking. Through Saul’s story, we are able to show and educate consumers as to the choices they can make toward responsible drinking and the people that permit them to make those choices. The everyday heroes!

MCBN: The Bavaria range has a variety of flavours. Could you run us through your 0.0% non-alcoholic range of drinks?

OW: Our truly 0.0% beverages (not 0.03%) come in eight flavours. We have our Original, Apple, Peach, Strawberry, Lemon, Pomegranate, Mango-Passion and Ginger-lime. The latter two were made especially for the African consumer and are sold throughout the continent. The most popular flavours in South Africa are Original and Apple.

MCBN: We’re seeing a massive rise in non-alcoholic drinks globally. Drinking and slowing down has people not wanting to move away directly from drinking so 0.0% is the next logical step. We’re even seeing Sober Bars opening up worldwide. Is this something you see happening in South Africa? Would a Sober Bar work here and would Bavaria be front and centre behind that bar?

OW: I believe that there will be a sober bar very soon and I know that there is a mobile bar service that offers only non-alcoholic options from beers, botanicals, gins and more. I am further aware of some big names in the sober bar scene from New York that wish to start a pop-up in Cape Town soon in the future as well. A sober bar would work in South Africa. How it is marketed is a key element to attracting the consumer. Bavaria is front and centre in helping the consumer understand the value of all non-alcoholic options and the benefits it has for individuals, families, and communities. The category is growing so fast and the benefits so real, that we believe it is the collective duty of non-alcoholic brands to collectively educate the consumers and perhaps there could be a collaboration between the brands to open up a bar sometime in the future. Challenge made!

MCBN: What are Bavaria’s goals for the year 2020, where can our audience find themselves some of your 0.0% non-alcoholic beer?

OW: Bavaria’s goals in 2020 are to continue to educate and provide awareness on the very real benefits of non-alcoholic options in South Africa. We are the Official 0.0% sponsor of the Comrades Marathon and it is a partnership which permits us to get the responsible drinking message to all corners of South Africa. “Made for Easy” is Bavaria’s brand positioning for South Africa and it expresses Bavaria’s ethos as a holistic lifestyle brand and touches on the intrinsic aspects of our non-alcoholic product range. Bavaria caters for a lifestyle many people are pursuing. A life that embraces the best in family time, adventure, outdoor events, a variety of sports and all-round easy moments. Our fast-paced lives are filled with so much information that it is hard to slow down, find balance and experience the most precious moments’ life has to offer. “Made for Easy” is about being present in every moment, doing the things you love with friends and family and responsibly celebrating life. In 2020, we want to convey our Made for Easy message and the current “Cheers to” campaign is the start of something exciting!

Our products are available in all major retailers throughout South Africa. Ask for us by name or contact us through online platforms for your closest Bavaria outlet.

MCBN: How can the day to day Bavaria lover send their thanks to the designated drivers?

OW: By purchasing them a 0.0% Bavaria and thanking them for all they do for themselves and us. We would love to see pictures of taxi drivers and other designated drivers, or responsible friends, family or colleagues with a Bavaria in-hand on our online platforms. We will run a salute to these everyday heroes in January – lookout for the posts on social media. Further, there will be fantastic specials in most major retailers during January. You can contact us on Facebook for more information.

MCBN: If you could give anyone reading this advice on how to provide for people that currently aren’t drinking and celebrating responsibly? This is a topic that has sprung up over the course of many discussions lately!

OW: This is a tough one as many people don’t understand what responsible drinking truly is. Further, people do not admit they have a drinking problem because of the fear of being labelled an alcoholic. I will say it straight that I am not an alcoholic but I am not a good drunk. I have admitted to MY relationship with alcohol and put actions in place to drink responsibly when I do consume alcohol. Further, I use non-alcoholic options in situations and periods where I need to decrease or refrain from alcohol. I have the benefit of knowledge though and non-alcoholic brands must create more awareness of responsible drinking and the product options available. We all need to take control and care in our actions as it can affect ourselves, our families, and communities.

MCBN: What do you like most about your job and the surrounding industry?

OW: The thing I like most is the challenge. The challenge of uncovering this new category and communicating the benefits of the category to those who want to listen and those that eventually start listening. The non-alcoholic industry is helping to grow and define positive drinking occasions and social acceptance for the use of non-alcoholic and low-alcohol products. Mainstream alcohol companies, smaller companies, and retailers are realizing the potential in this industry and there is considerable investment being made. The increased investment will ensure the continued growth of the industry for the foreseeable future and will permit us to continually educate the consumer as to the benefits of the industry. It is extremely exciting.

MCBN: For anyone looking to get into your industry, what advice would you give them and what tips would you provide to help their journey?

OW: Every day is a process of discovery, failure, success, disappointment, and joy. I started as a bartender during varsity whilst reading Law. I enjoyed serving others; I enjoyed people; I enjoyed what I was doing and networked my way to where I am now as opportunities opened up before me. This industry is so interconnected and extremely diverse and you have to form strong and lasting relationships. You will have wins and you will have failures, and help others to achieve their goals alongside yours. Be vulnerable. Do what you love and celebrate your wins, stand up straight and put those shoulders back, be impeccable with your word, and don’t compare yourself to others.

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