Seagram’s 7 Crown is continuing its “comeback” with the launch of its first national branding campaign in more than a decade.
It’s no secret that the iconic blended whiskey — which has been saddled for decades with a perception of being somewhat déclassé, as well as the choice of older generations — has fallen far from its heyday in the '70s, when it was selling more than 9 million 9-litre cases per year. (It was the first spirits brand to reach 1 million case sales, and by 1983 had sold a cumulative 300 million cases.)
What’s less well known is that it was still selling 4 million cases per year as recently as 1990, and is selling about 2 million per year even now, putting it within the top 30 U.S. spirits brands as ranked by Shanken Impact, points out BoozeBusiness.com.
And the tides of consumer preference may be turning in its favor. Diageo, which acquired the brand in 2000, is looking to capitalize on recent years’ brown spirits revival, driven by nostalgia-loving younger adults.
Much of that revival action has been around shot-friendly premium bourbons, scotches and Irish whiskeys, and flavored spirits like Fireball Cinnamon Whisky (which managed to become the top-selling liqueur in the U.S. in just a few years).
But Seagram’s 7’s new marketing is designed to appeal not only to millennials’ and Gen Y-ers’ emphases on camaraderie and “authentic” experiences and products, but also to their egalitarianism (and perhaps their eye for a bargain, given crushing college debt burdens).
“Seagram’s 7 Crown has always been a priority for Diageo, though how we invest behind the brand has shifted over the years,” Jason Sorley, brand director for Seagram’s 7, tells Marketing Daily. “We are constantly monitoring cultural insights, and as we’ve seen a trend toward a more casual lifestyle, coupled with positive tailwinds across all price tiers in American whiskey, we felt that the time was right to refocus our efforts.”
The affordably priced brand is being repositioned as an unpretentious choice perfect for hanging out with friends in unpretentious environments: “the quintessential dive bar drink,” in Seagram’s 7’s own words.
Actually, the brand describes the creative theme as being inspired by research showing that consumers desire “casual” environments when they want to kick back with friends for drinks — like their “welcoming,” “no frills” local dive bars, offering “memorable” experiences that include “jukeboxes, beat-up booths, graffitied bathrooms and simple drinks made by hard-working bartenders.”
Seagram’s 7 won’t be found “on fancy menus or in complex cocktails,” but it’s a “guaranteed-smooth, casual whiskey,” promises the messaging.
Sporting a package redesign, the brand set the stage earlier this year with a “Save the Dive Bar” campaign. It established “National Dive Bar Day” (held on July 7), and held events in venerable dive bars in key cities. The brand also announced it would help save historic dive bars by making donations to the National Trust for Historic Preservation tied to social media use of #SaveTheDiveBar and sales of a “Save the Dive Bar” T-shirt.
The ad campaign now being launched — called “This Is Your Whiskey” — is from Forsman & Bodenfors New York.
The creative includes a series of videos shot by cinematographer/commercial director Ed David, as well as social and out-of-home (above) executions. (The last full-on brand campaign was 100% print, according to a brand rep.)
One video (below) focuses on the jukebox in what is clearly one of those beloved dive bars. “Playlists don’t need witty names,” declares a disapproving, gravelly female voiceover. “’Grillin’ and Chillin’ Mix’...’Tunes for the Spoons’? No. Playlists just need a damn play button. If this [an old jukebox] is your playlist, this [Seagram’s 7 bottle] is your whiskey.”
“Seagram’s 7 Crown and dive bars go hand in hand, and have for decades, because the two are easy, approachable and share a history of bringing people together,” says Sorley. “Our campaign was born so that consumers 21 and over would feel inspired to gather at their local watering holes, grab a 7&7 or a shot and a beer, and take a moment to appreciate and recognize the simple hidden gems we all know and love.”