Fri, Nov 25, 2005 - Page 13 News List

It's all about face for Lien

Environmentalist and musician Matthew Lien is the new face of Taiwan Beer

By Gavin Phipps  /  STAFF REPORTER

Matthew Lien. It's a tough job, but someone's got to be the new face of Taiwan Beer.

PHOTO: GAVIN PHIPPS, TAIPEI TIMES

Taiwan Beer got a new look earlier this week, when popular environmentalist and musician Matthew Lien stepped up to become the official advertising face for Taiwan Tobacco & Liquor Corp's (TTL, 台灣菸酒公司) latest brand of beer, Gold Medal King, or Superbrew Taiwan Beer.

While endorsing beer is a new direction for the eco-musician who is better known for his sanctioning of, and support for, cultural events and environmental awareness programs for children, it isn't the first time he's been used by a local company to advertise its products.

Five years ago Lien's environmentally friendly image was used to advertise a brand of canned coffee. The coffee advertising campaign might have proven mildly successful, but Lien never envisioned that one day he'd be the poster boy for Taiwan Beer.

"I was pleasantly surprised and had no idea that I was on [TTL's] radar. It certainly suits me, though. I mean, I've drunk so much Taiwan Beer over the years that I probably should be a shareholder and I have no problem in endorsing the product as it's a [good] product," Lien said.

"In the long run I think it will lighten the public perception of me which is one of contemplation and of being quite serious."

While it is the first time the company has used a foreign face to advertise and endorse its products, Lien is the second musician to have been enlisted in order to popularize a brand of beer.

Earlier this year the TTL enlisted the help of Taiwan's best-known rock and roller, Wu Bai (伍佰) in order to create a youthful and energetic image for its Gold Medal Taiwan Beer advertising campaign. The campaign worked well and TTL managed to claw its way back from the 74 percent stake in the beer market it held in 2002 to the current stake of 80 percent of the country's US$1 billion-a-year beer market.

Following the success of the Gold Medal brand, TTL decided to introduce more brands in order to fend off some stiff competition from its closest rival Heineken, which is the second best selling beer in Taiwan and accounts for 8 percent of the market.

The new TV commercial, which is set to begin airing later next month, is radically different from Wu Bai's noisy rock and roll beer image. The 30 second advertisement features Lien as he peacefully records the sounds of nature. While recording he befriends a group of river tracers and after jumping from the top of the waterfall and enjoying a brisk swim Lien and his new friends enjoy a glass of Superbrew Taiwan Beer together.

TTL will have to wait and see how the image of a foreigner seen drinking and endorsing Taiwan Beer on national TV will sit with the masses more accustomed to the loud Wu Bai commercial, but the company feels it has made the right choice.

"It's a new brand and we wanted to take a different approach. We wanted to show how fresh the beer is and how natural the ingredients are," said TTL Chairman Ray Dawn (董瑞斌). "But more importantly we wanted to use an international image to prove that Taiwan Beer is accepted by people everywhere, not only in Taiwan."

According to figures made available from TTL, on average 475 million liters of beer are consumed in Taiwan every year, which when you work it out on an individual level equates to roughly 21l for each of the nation's 23 million inhabitants.

Whether Lien's face will increase these percentages isn't yet known, but regardless of the eventual outcome the eco-musician has a few choice words of wisdom for drinkers of "other" brands who might be contemplating switching to Superbrew.

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