He's younger, more athletic, thoroughly modern — and he actually speaks Spanish.
He's the new face of Dos Equis' "Most Interesting Man in the World," a reboot of the long-running advertising campaign that already has helped define the brand and sell a lot of Mexican beer.
In a teaser trailer debuting Wednesday, Dos Equis gives customers a first glimpse at the second act, replacing its older, gray-bearded icon with more of a rugged, James Bond-esque character. And like 007, KFC's Kentucky colonel, Batman and other character-based franchises, Dos Equis is hoping viewers won't be jolted by the change to a new actor.
As beer sales have soared in recent years, competition has become fierce, pushing Dos Equis to switch up its strategy as it goes after younger drinkers.
Making sure the new man can speak Spanish was a no-brainer.
"We’re trying to reach a new audience," says Andrew Katz, vice president of marketing for Dos Equis. "The reality of the drinker base is it’s much more multicultural than ever. And Spanish-dominant consumers are increasingly important."
Indeed, the U.S. population has dramatically shifted since actor Jonathan Goldsmith first uttered his now famous tagline: "I don't always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis." The Hispanic population hit an all-time high in 2014 and is expected to double to nearly 106 million by 2050, according to government figures. At the same time, sales of imported beer, and particularly Mexican beers, have been on a tear.
Sales of Mexican imported beer so far this year have increased 13.6% compared to the same time period last year, according to figures from market research firm IRI. Dos Equis' Lager Especial sales have grown 6.4% this year, but overall sales still significantly lag brands including Corona Extra and Modelo Especial.
Cast to help freshen Dos Equis' image as the new 'Most Interesting Man' is Augustin Legrand, a French actor who also speaks English and Spanish. While the previous man, portrayed by Goldsmith, was seen reflecting on past experiences from the corners of a dark bar with a bevy of beautiful women on his arms, Legrand will be more of an action hero — whether it's chopping a coconut in half with his bare hand, running down a street clutching a pig or retrieving a soccer ball from inside a well.
"He's more resourceful," says Nuno Teles, chief marketing officer for Heineken USA, which owns Dos Equis. "(Our customers) were just ready to see the 'Most Interesting Man' in more challenging situations, in more contemporary situations."
At 41, Legrand is more than 30 years younger than Goldsmith, who retired from the campaign at 77 earlier this year. Legrand's spots will get some other modern upgrades as well, including pushing the campaign on Snapchat and writing a more progressive role for women. Teles doesn't rule out the potential of having a 'Most Interesting Woman' beside Legrand for his adventures.
Part of the brand's challenge remains whether it will be able to continue the viral success of the campaign without falling victim to the disappointment that so often befalls sequels in Hollywood.
"It's hard for people to attach to a new actor, because it’s merely an imperfect copy of the previous one," says Erich Joachimsthaler, CEO of brand strategy firm Vivaldi.
Dos Equis also faces significantly more competition than when the 'Most Interesting Man' first graced TV screens nine years ago. An analysis of Nielsen data that Heineken conducted earlier this year revealed that U.S. households bought an average of 12 different kinds of beer in the last year, proving that Dos Equis would need to work harder to make sure its bottles are among them.
Part of its plan includes updated packaging, the first-ever Snapchat campaign, and becoming an official sponsor for the College Football Playoff, which will serve as the launch pad for the first full ads with Legrand in October.
"We want to be a contemporary brand," while addressing the reality that "the category's more fragmented than ever," Katz says. "For us, it’s not so much about building loyalty but it is about getting consideration."
Follow Hadley Malcolm on Twitter @hadleypdxdc.