To support both the retail rollout of its recently launched Southern Comfort Lime extension and the overall brand's image revamping, Brown-Forman's Southern Comfort is back on television for the first time in nearly two years.
The 15-second TV spot -- which debuted Sept. 13 on "SportsCenter" on ESPN2 -- will run through December on leading sports, entertainment and comedy channels, including ESPN, ESPN2, Comedy Central, E!, USA Network, TBS, Discovery, FX and Spike. The TV exposure will complement digital/social media, in-store, and public relations efforts.
Southern Comfort Lime -- a ready-made, "perfect serve" alternative to the bartender-made Southern Comfort-and-lime-juice shots that have been popular in bars for at least a decade -- was launched on an on-premises basis at the start of this summer, and is now being sold at retail throughout the U.S. and internationally.
"It made sense to introduce the product, which offers not only convenience, but a taste reflecting a perfect proportion of Southern Comfort and lime, in the environment in which our brand fans were already familiar with the bartender-made shots," notes Southern Comfort Global Marketing Director Mike Isaac.
The Lime launch -- as well as a summer launch of Southern Comfort Lemonade (part of the brand's ready-to-pour, retail-sold cocktails line, started last year with Southern Comfort Hurricane and Sweet Tea varieties) -- coincided with the introduction of the brand's new packaging designs.
The new packaging designs, which incorporate the brand's traditional New Orleans-evocative symbols in a more streamlined presentation, are part of an overreaching, in-progress initiative to bring a "new look and feel" to the brand's identity, confirms Isaac.
Last year, much of the Southern Comfort "renaissance" focused on building the brand's digital engagement with the core target audience of men and women ages 21 to 24, Isaac reports. Efforts included videos/pre-rolls for popular online television programming, banner ads and branded music programming on key sites, and the launch of a Facebook fan page (making Southern Comfort the first Brown-Forman brand to have a Facebook presence).
"Facebook is where consumers are socializing today, and our target market spends a significant amount of time [there] on a daily basis," says Isaac, adding that the brand has been pleased with the engagement level, which is more dynamic than that typically seen via branded Web sites. (One recently introduced, and continuing, feature on the Facebook page is a "Beat the Bartender" game in which users are challenged to try to make a traditional Southern Comfort & Lime shot before a bartender serves up Southern Comfort Lime straight from the bottle.)
In addition to spotlighting Southern Comfort Lime for its off-premises launch, the new TV spot (creative by Arnold Worldwide) embodies and reinforces the hip New Orleans vibe central to the overall brand's updated identity. The spot intersperses shots of New Orleans partying scenes with shots of stylized graphic images -- including a new gator icon meant to epitomize "New Orleans mystique."
The TV presence adds an element of broader, off-trade exposure to a campaign that includes a digital buy on online programming such as "The Office" and "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" on NBCU; Brightroll placements on networks such as ESPN and Spike; the ongoing Facebook engagement efforts; and in-store promotional elements (prominently featuring gator imagery and graphics from the TV spot) that include clings, barrel coolers, shelf-talkers, neon signage, ceiling danglers and hangtags.
Southern Comfort Lemonade is available in both 1.75 liter and 750 milliliter sizes, and in conjunction with its launch, the brand also introduced 750-ml sizes of the Hurricane and Sweet Tea ready-to-drink cocktail varieties (originally available only in 1.75-liter). These 30-proof cocktails, which have a somewhat older consumer base, are being marketed primarily through in-store promotions and other efforts geared to that base, according to Isaac.