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How Alcohol Brands Are Toasting Summer

The bars are bustling and barbeques are in full swing. People are ready to come together, crack open a can or sip a cocktail, and enjoy summer’s lovely, fleeting season. Here’s how brands are adding spirits to the menu.

Cocktail Hour
Pernod Ricard’s Absolut brand released its biggest global campaign in over a decade, just in time for summer’s sizzling temps. Dubbed “The World of Absolut Cocktails: Born to Mix,” it playfully anthropomorphizes beloved vodka cocktails as color-coded human characters with various characteristics and quirks. Case in point: an accompanying three-minute film, “The World of Absolut Cocktails,” sees a high-energy Espresso Martini cutting loose on the dance floor while Mud Slide plays a cool guitar and chic Cosmopolitan checks out the action from a side perch. The campaign is running on numerous channels, including TV, digital video, out-of-home and social sites. The underlying theme is that while both vodka and their personalities are good solo, things get even better when they unite. After two years of isolation and a current socioeconomic climate defined by division, Absolut decided this was the right time to emphasize a message of unity. “The idea is really rooted in the Absolut brand’s DNA,” said Pam Forbus, Pernod CMO. “It’s important to be a strong individual, but we create a better world when we mix and come together. That’s a metaphor for what’s going on in the world today.”

Also launching nationally this summer is Thomas Ashbourne Craft Spirits, a new ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktail brand that already boasts an A-list profile thanks to its exclusive list of celebrity backers. Named for a famous Prohibition-era mixologist known for crafting delicious drink infusions, the brand’s partners include Sarah Jessica Parker, Rosario Dawson, Vanessa Hudgens and WWE star-turned-actor John Cena, among others. RTD cocktails are among the fastest-growing segments of the alcohol industry, having increased by 126% in 2021 compared to the previous year. Thomas Ashbourne aims to appeal to that population with premium ingredients like real fruit and high-proof spirits blended into offerings including the Margalicious Margarita, the Classic Old Fashioned or Sarah Jessica Parker’s Perfect Cosmo. “We’re here to dispel the myth that bespoke, high-end cocktails can only be enjoyed in certain settings, by certain people,” said founder Cara Kamanev. “Our brand will provide consumers a high-quality beverage comparable only to the best bar-made cocktails that can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere.”

More Than a Beer
Summer should be a time for less work and more play, but many consumers currently struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance due to the ongoing effects of Covid-19. When working from home became the norm, the average work day also increased by 2.5 hours, according to data from cybersecurity group NordVPN. Heineken is on a mission to help address the growing work-life imbalance under the pandemic with its newest offering, a high-tech bottle opener called The Closer. When used to crack open a bottle, the gadget leverages Bluetooth technology to effectively close all work-related apps and devices in the vicinity by putting them in sleep mode. “As people continue to feel like they have to work all the time, they’re forgetting that disconnecting is even an option,” said Bruno Bertelli, global chief creative officer at Publicis Worldwide. “That’s why we created The Closer. It’s not just technology; it’s a social provocation to help people see that the pressure to work all the time is getting a little ridiculous and we all have the power to log off and go hang out with our friends again.” An accompanying campaign film satirically displays the way the high-tech bottle opener works.

On a lighter (pun intended note), Miller Lite unveiled a beer-infused charcoal meant to fire up grills and flavor foods with the taste of its pilsner-style suds. Called “Miller Lite Beercoal,” the charcoal bricks are a continuation of Miller’s new line of taste offerings that kicked off with its March Madness-inspired flavor drops. “Summer is all about outdoor cookouts and get-togethers, which means plenty of Miller Time,” said director of marketing Anne Pando. “We see Miller Lite Beercoal as the perfect way to kick-off a season-long celebration of beer, grilling and hanging out with friends and family.”

Message in a Bottle
Coors Light is endeavoring to reach millennials and Gen Z members with a new summer campaign that targets environmental sustainability, an issue deemed vitally important by members of these demographics. Called “Made to Chill,” the effort involved lacquering the roofs of several Miami buildings with a special white paint proven to reflect 85% of sunlight. As a result, the “Chillboards” lower surface temperatures by up to 50 degrees and provide residents with an efficient way to lower their utility costs. Created by Set Free Richardson, founder of lifestyle brand Compound, and street artist Andulaz the Artist, the billboards display messages like “Coolest Ad in America” and “This Roof Chills up to 50 Degrees,” and they’re only visible from the air—which somehow makes them even cooler. An accompanying film highlights Miami’s continuously rising temperatures and asks the question, “What if our ads could chill communities as much as our beer does?”

From scorching heat to searing cold, Boston Beer Company—the fourth-largest brewer in the US that sells products internationally—recently launched an RTD offering called Bevy Long Drink. It evolved from a Finnish cocktail known as the “Long Drink,” which blends citrus fruit with gin, soda water and tonic and was originally created for the 1952 Helsinki Summer Olympics. In keeping with that history, the hero spot shows a tongue-in-cheek portrayal of how people enjoy sipping summer cocktails in Finland: by donning Hawaiian-printed shirts, grabbing inflatable pink flamingos and floating in a frozen hole cut through the ice while surrounded by snowy vistas. Inspiration came from a different campaign called “Honesty: Invented in Finland,” which speaks to the country’s theme of using self-parody in marketing. “What makes me grateful and extremely proud is the opportunity to ‘export’ these traits and values in our work with great international and U.S. clients like the Boston Beer Company, who share the mindset and immediately saw what we could bring to the table,” said Juha-Matti Raunio, brand lead for TBWA/Helsinki.

Here’s to having fun and drinking responsibly this summer!