Commentary

A Toast To Alcohol Brands That Elevated Social Content During Pandemic

Times like these, many of us could use a drink, right? That’s not just mere hyperbole. According to Nielsen, the week ending May 2 had the strongest growth rate for alcohol since the start of the lockdown in mid-March.

Traditionally, alcohol social media marketing sticks to themes of alcohol as a product to be shared in public settings -- with friends in bars or nightclubs, or at big gatherings like sporting events.

But alcohol brands have had to adapt to the new reality we’re all living in, which isn’t easy from a messaging perspective. Think about it: you need to promote alcohol consumption in a socially distant way, but engage with the sense of fun that is the voice of most brands in the category. And, of course, in a way that’s sensitive to excessive consumption.

It’s quite a tightrope to walk. So how can all this be accomplished? Here are a few ways alcohol brands are adapting their social content to our current state of affairs.

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Support/host virtual gatherings: Last month in China ecommerce giant JD.com partnered with Budweiser and Remy Cointreau to sell drinks via a virtual club live-stream. Consumers appreciated the brand’s attempt to replicate the social aspect of a night out without having to leave their homes.

Support the industry and its workers: This is the time to show some empathy in your social messaging, even if it’s a little out of character for your brand. Crook & Marker used social media to launch its #CheersUp campaign, encouraging followers to post selfies or videos of themselves offering a toast on Instagram or Facebook using the hashtag #CheersUp. The brand donated $1 to the USBG Bartender Emergency Assistance Program for every post, up to $10,000. Other brands like Bacardi (#RaiseYourSpirits) and Budweiser (#SavePubLife) have promoted similar initiatives.

Promote user-generated content: Guinnness’ (disclosure: a client of our parent company) lockdown-inspired ad campaign was created by someone at the Twitter page @OneMinuteBriefs, where adland pros and wannabes post ideas. Guinness loved the image and shared it on social media. Brands in other categories are asking consumers to share their own videos of them interacting with their brand at home to great effect.

Nurture brand communities: The new normal means we’re all interacting with the outside world through video calls. Smart brands are thinking about the best ways to engage their consumers in ways that bring people together. Consider Bruichladdich Distillery, which invited its social media followers to join a Nextflix watch-along of “The Life of Brian” (using the Netflix party app). The company followed it up with a post-movie Q&A session on Instagram.

Meanwhile, Stella Artois is encouraging people to have video drinks with friends using the hashtag #StellaDigitalCheers.

Alcohol consumption is up now, and it’s easy to understand why, but the smartest brands are looking beyond short-term gains to a truly sustainable long-term social media strategy that engages consumers and unites them behind the values the brands exhibit in the worst and best of times. That’s something we all can drink to.

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