Have Irn-Bru Won the Euros Before a Ball is Kicked?




After their return to the big international stage in Euro 2020, Scotland have qualified for the European Championships again this year. Anticipation is building, and with it another feeling. An unfamiliar feeling, according to this perfectly pitched new Irn-Bru ad. A feeling of… optimism?

Irn-Bru have an enviable record of making funny, tongue-in-cheek ads which take pride in Scotland even as they’re having a laugh about its stereotypes or getting cheeky with pop culture icons. Their Christmas ad, featuring a kid being taken for a magical ride over Scottish landmarks by Raymond Briggs’ Snowman, only to be dumped in a snowdrift when he won’t share his Irn-Bru, is much-loved, and scored 5.1-Stars on re-release last year. Their legendary 2001 “ram-raiding granny” ad did even better, getting 5.6-Stars when retested.

And now here’s a third 5-Star ad, taking Scotland’s excitement over the Euros and having fun with the country’s usual pessimism about its chances at big tournaments. (This is, after all, a nation that made a World Cup record called “Don’t Come Home Too Soon”)

A young woman visits her doctor. She is suffering unusual symptoms – the corners of her mouth are rising, and she is feeling giddy. The doctor is seeing many such cases – in fact he’s infected by this strange “optimism” himself. And at the end of the ad, we cut to a waiting room filled with fans from Scotland’s Tartan Army, all hoping for treatment. The treatment, needless to say, involves a can of Irn-Bru.

Like Irn-Bru’s other great ads, it’s a lot of fun with a little bit of edge, and a sharp creative eye on the values the brand stands for. Irn-Bru is a quintessentially Scottish brand, and well known for that even south of the border. Its close association with its home nation gives it an opportunity to be patriotic, but a kind of knowing, humorous patriotism that isn’t off-putting if you’re not part of the clan. One of the most impressive things about the brand’s multiple 5-Star scores is that they’re achieved with a general UK audience. Most of the people enjoying this ad won’t be Scotland fans, but they can appreciate the excitement and wit the ad displays.

Making funny, irreverent ads people love is not easy, but Irn-Bru manage it again and again. What’s their secret? Part of it is consistency – they’ve built a brand around this tongue-in-cheek approach and consumers expect it of them. It means they have cultural permission to act in ways that a bigger brand might find more awkward or difficult. And part of it is bravery – they understand that some people might be shocked or angry at ads like their snowman one. But they’re betting more people will love it. The 5-Star results speak for themselves. Euro 2024 will be one of the most competitive advertising events of the year, but Irn-Bru may have won the marketing tournament before a ball is even kicked.

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