XXI a. kasdienybės dienoraštis

Tag: Baltic PR Awards

Half-truth in corporate communication: “Carlsberg Group” lay-offs and closures in the Baltics

This case study explains one of the propaganda technologies used to manipulate public opinion.

A half-truth is a deceptive statement that includes some element of truth. (Wikipedia)

half-truth_schemeBeer industry is under constant competitive pressure worldwide. During1990-ies Carlsberg came into the Baltic markets via acquisitions of local breweries – Saku (1991, Estonia), Aldaris (1992, Latvia),  Utena (1997, Lithuania) and Švyturys (1999, Lithuania). Initially all of them were owners of local brands, but due to comparatively small markets concentration was inevitable.

Closing down Aldaris in Latvia

Case of Aldaris factory closure was presented at Baltic PR Awards 2014, where it achieved 2nd place in Corporate Communication category with a case named “Communication of Aldaris Business Strategy Change”.

As the story continues, the company keeps to it’s promises – opens museum in April 2015, aims for a small volume production.Aldaris_logo_vesturiska

Latvian best-practice is in the process of multiplication in Lithuania

As from corporate perspective decision to take similar path in neighbouring country was easy and well argued. A single production line can easily cover all Baltic states from one production plant. But at the same time such decision marks the need for a careful preparation on labor, branding and other potential conflicting issues.

Meantime from consumer perspective a beer produced in his town and brought from another country (even from another side of the same country) is a completely different issue. Not to forget hard competition from smaller local breweries.

delfi_2011_LRT_PanoramaIt is even more important, when media in Lithuania as early as 2011 was reporting about Švyturys’ trade union, which was warning about corporate plans to discontinue beer production in Klaipėda plant and move it to Utena.

Deconstruction of a Half-truth

From a public relations perspective Carlsberg Group strategy consist of simple idea:

  • announce a nice-to-have target (beer museum, craft beer production line etc.)
  • present a clear road map to reach it
  • make sure the target implies at least temporal closure of ongoing production
  • be unclear what would the future production look like, do not expand on the lay-offs and/or other trade-union related issues

In Lithuania, where Švyturys has a lengthy history of sponsorships with the “sacred” national basketball team, it is a rare thing to notice something negative about the company, therefore no tough questions were to be expected.

Such was a best-practice plan to be used in Lithuania and it went just so… Major news portals simply used corporate press release and had not a single doubt about the true nature of the initiative.



We cannot stipulate, whereas reconstruction will be real or just a simple lie to calm down potential negative public reactions. In any case, as long as today no voice from trade unions, market analysts or NGO’s has troubled the corporation in it’s quest to solve a difficult corporate development issue without any public resistance.

Looking from a civil society perspective questions still remain untouched – are public media still our watchdogs?

Strategy 2.0 for Lithuania

I love those several hours long driving business trips. This time – to Riga*, 3-4 hours drive from Vilnius. It’s always a good time to align ideas, contemplate and look for new insights.

An early morning drive was no different. I had a large cup of coffee, rather slow pace and a lot of time to think about everything on my mind. The tricky part during the journey was I’ve forgotten to take a technical pass for my car. All those earlier cross-border checks made me wonder for a half an hour, whereas I will be asked to turn around and go back.

Saločiai-GrenctaleBut EU reality proved once more, that it is the thing worth fighting for – there are no border checks, there is no wasted time, there are no those specific people – border guards. Now LT-LV border crossing is no different from the Soviet times, when my family trip Utena (LT) – Daugavpils (LV) was a regular route and the most noticeable change were new alphabet letters on the border signs.

And that’s where I was stroked with an idea, that this small change is a perfect KPI for Lithuanian development strategy 2.0. Now, when we are successful member of EU and NATO (that was our Strategy 1.0), we (Lithuania) should focus our efforts in order to achieve similar borderless status with ALL our neighbours. This is not an easy task. Free movement of people, goods, services and information will not be easy to achieve with Belarus or Russian Federation. And these are only minor examples of issues to be dealt before we can abandon all our remaining border stations.

We should not expect easy goals, nor will they be quickly achievable. Nevertheless, the abandoned LT-LV customs building is a perfect illustration for the change I wished for our relations with Belarus and Russian Federation. Borders are meaningless only when you trust. And building trust with all our neighbours should be our major strategic goal.

* – I was invited as a jury member to the final stage of Baltic PR Awards competition.