Big Category, Small Brand: Red Stripe Web/TV Effort Gains Traction
The quirky niche brand recently launched a new TV and online ad campaign with former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis who tries to throw a few jabs at the brand's familiar Jamaican ambassador Dorrel Salmon.
The campaign is a notable example of how a small, upstart brand with a meager budget can gain traction by creatively deploying TV, online, sponsorships, viral, and event marketing. "We're a small brand, we can't afford to be on air like Corona can," said Chris Parsons, director of strategy and marketing for Red Stripe. "The more people we can drive to the Web, the more we can create ambassadors for the brand," he said. The brand sells approximately 2 million cases in the U.S. per year, compared to Corona's 80 million cases.
Created by Omnicom Group's BBDO, New York, the hilarious TV spot shows Lewis in a confrontation with the ambassador. The 30-second spot drives viewers to www.RedStripeBeer.com to watch a fight between Lewis and the ambassador. The fight doesn't quite materialize and Salmon suggests the two face off in a Jamaican plantain cooking contest. The TV and online campaign, conceived by AtmosphereBBDO, are part of the Diageo brand's "Hooray Beer!" effort.
The brand's target audience, adults age 21 to 29, went online in droves to download a series of ads. "For every one commercial we had on TV, we had three [that were] downloaded," Parsons said. The goal was to have visitors to the Web site pass the ads along virally to friends. Just a couple of weeks into the campaign, Parsons said, "What we do know is that they spend significantly more time than they did before [with the brand online]. We've had a 400 percent increase in browsers and a 200 percent increase in repeat browsers." A total of 100,000 people downloaded the ad.
Red Stripe tried the TV/Web approach last year and found it both cost-efficient and effective. Parsons declined to specify spending on the effort.
Lennox Lewis' participation in this year's campaign was something of a fluke. The retired boxer apparently went onto the Red Stripe site, liked the campaign and offered his services. Lewis' encounter with the ambassador in the TV spot, continues in a series of online ads. The TV spot ran on ESPN, and is set to run in the top 15 markets in August. Red Stripe is mulling Direct Response TV ads. It sponsors Jamaican Embassy beach parties, conducts sampling in bars, and participants in event sponsorships, particularly around music. Working with AtmosphereBBDO, Parsons said Red Stripe tried to make its Website as user-friendly as possible. The team cut the 30-second TV spot down to 8 seconds for the Web site. At the shoot for the TV spot, Red Stripe brought in a B-roll camera crew for behind the scenes footage featuring the ambassador and Lewis. Parsons said he is always looking to create original content from extra footage, update the site more frequently, create micro-sites, and offer more sneak peaks of new ads.