It’s a fun time to be in the business of making alcohol. Craft beer breweries have experienced a years-long surge in popularity, with domestic sales representing 24 percent of the American beer market in 2018. Gin seems to be getting more love in the 2020s than it did in the 1920s, as a record number of distilleries are now registered in the UK. And celebrities like Sean “Diddy” Combs and country music singer Brad Paisley have jumped into the vodka and whiskey-making worlds, respectively. This flurry of activity directly correlates to surging sales. The global alcohol market reached a value of $1,587 billion in 2020, according to IMARC Group’s latest report. Here’s how brands are remaining relevant and vying for consumers’ attention via innovative campaigns.
Over half of US consumers reportedly made plans to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day this year, according to Numerator’s “Holiday Sentiment Study.” That represents a reawakening—because the March 17 holiday coincided with the first pandemic lockdowns of 2020, when revelers were forced to avoid crowds and beer sales suffered. To celebrate declining Covid-19 infection rates and society’s continued return to normalcy, Guinness released a joyful 60-second spot showing a group of decidedly not-social-distanced merrymakers. As they drink beer in a crowded bar, they belt out “Can’t Keep My Eyes Off of You” by Frankie Valli. In food news, Baileys liqueur teamed with New York City’s Ess-a-Bagel shop to create (non-alcoholic) Baileys-infused cream cheese, while Lucky Charms turned out everything from limited-edition cereal that dyes milk green, to specially designed Lucky Charms Crocs.
On Netflix, season two of Bridgerton broke records, as the streaming platform’s most-watched series with over 82 million viewers and a place on top 10 lists in 93 countries. Diageo’s Tanqueray gin recently paired with the period romance-comedy for a campaign called “Make it T-Time” that includes a set of videos featuring musician Joe Jonas, comedian Phoebe Robinson and Bridgerton star Jonathan Bailey. While imbibing Tanqueray cocktails instead of tea, Bailey and Robinson give Jonas tips on how to fit into Regency-era England. The partnership between gin brand and streaming platform makes sense, given the quintessentially British natures of both Tanqueray and Bridgerton, combined with the fact that the former was founded in 1830, a few decades after events in the show take place.
Betting on Beer
Beer sales are making a comeback after suffering pandemic-related declines, and within this category light beer is especially popular. The segment is projected to hit nearly $339 million in sales by 2027, driven mainly by younger consumers. To stand out in the crowded space, D.G. Yuengling & Son partnered with pop band Imagine Dragons to sponsor their summer 2022 tour while promoting Flight by Yuengling, a light beer offering. The timing is significant, as live concert attendance continues to increase due to lifting Covid restrictions. What’s more, Imagine Dragons is a hit with millennials and Gen Z, who especially responded to “Warriors,” a song created by the band for League of Legends, which ranks among the top multiplayer video games. “It’s an amazing collaboration for Flight by Yuengling, our low-carb upscale light brand, to align with such a great band that is known for their high-energy, entertaining performances,” said Wendy Yuengling, chief administrative officer.
Meanwhile, fellow beer brand Miller Lite recently released limited-edition Beer Drops to celebrate National Beer Day on April 7. The liquid drops can be added to any light beer to “enhance flavor”—or make other light beer options taste less like water and more like Miller Lite. “One thing we know to be true, Miller Lite lovers absolutely love the taste of beer,” said global VP Sofia Colucci. “We see Beer Drops as a fun yet competitive extension of our new campaign to highlight what sets us apart. National Beer Day is the perfect moment to celebrate the great taste that has made Miller Lite special since 1975.” Two 15-second spots supported the activation with airtime during March Madness basketball games as well as appearances on digital and social channels.
Out of This World
Advertising is out of this world for some alcohol brands—literally. This summer, tequila maker Jose Cuervo will open its first metaverse distillery on a popular platform called Decentraland. Here, the company plans to interact with age-appropriate visitors by providing virtual education about how their product is made, while also creating memorable entertainment experiences to connect with consumers in a more meaningful way. According to a Harris Poll, seven out of 10 millennials and Gen Z members are interested in using the metaverse, making it ever more important for brands to have a presence in the expanding virtual space.
Finally, AB InBev beer brand Pilsen Callao is working to make the world of gaming more inclusive for deaf players by bringing sign language to chat functions. A tool called E-nterpreters aims to serve over 300 million deaf gamers around the world who often feel excluded by the limitations in communication or express frustration at not being able to bond during gaming chats. Now, a bot designed specifically for Discord games listens to chats and translates conversations into sign language delivered via an on-screen avatar. “The deaf community is more familiarized with sign language for real-time translation, as this is more regular on national TV,” said Sergio Franco, executive creative director of Fahrenheit DDB Peru, the agency working on the launch. “Before E-nterpreters, there was no other communication tool created for deaf people in online games.” Pilsen Callao, which built its brand on a “Beer of Friendship” platform, helped spread the E-nterpreters word through its social platforms, leading to one million views in the first week and 75 percent of Peru’s deaf gaming community downloading the tool. Cheers to creative ad campaigns and drinking responsibly!