Communicating the Sensitive Merger of Two Historic Beer Brands

Challenge

Bavaria N.V. asked Zeno to provide full-service communications support for its acquisition of PBCB, including the development of messaging and Q&As, media/message training of C-suite executives and hosting a press conference on the day of the announcement. Bavaria is a popular beer brand but there was a central reputational challenge in that a Dutch family-owned company was acquiring a Belgian family-owned company, something that can be sensitive because of associated national pride surrounding brands.

Disruption

As well as the sensitivity surrounding the acquisition, both Bavaria and PBCB are long-established brands in their markets, with brewing histories going back more than 600 years. The immense sense of pride attached to the beer brands amongst employees and family members could make cultural integration difficult.

Zeno was enlisted to undertake a full-service communications project around the acquisition in less than three weeks. Together with the client, we decided to emphasize the family nature of both companies and build on the pride that is a prominent feature of both companies and their brands. We highlighted how the two companies had agreed to come together, rather than focusing on one acquiring the other.

On the day of the announcement, Zeno hosted a press conference from both Belgium and The Netherlands, hosted media interviews, and managed the press office and photo opportunities, all supported by clear messaging and Q&A content.

Over 50+ journalists from Belgium and The Netherlands attended press conference on announcement day, and coverage appeared on every major broadcast, print and online news outlet in the Netherlands and Belgium, for a total of 130 pieces of coverage with overall positive sentiment in both countries. There were 1380 social media conversations on the topic in the 5 days following the announcement, of which 95% were neutral to positive mentions. There was also a strategically placed article in the main Dutch financial daily newspaper a week prior to the announcement, in which Bavaria announced it was on the lookout for acquisitions.