Hard Seltzer Ad Buys Up 39% In 2021

As hard seltzer sales growth waned in 2021, ad buys in the category continued growing, according to ad campaign tracker MediaRadar.

In an analysis of hard seltzer ad buys from January through October, MediaRadar found spending at $237 million, up 39% over the same period in 2020. This included a 35% increase on TV to $194.5 million, a 63% boost in digital to $48.1 million, and a 20% increase in print to $649,000.

The number of hard seltzer advertisers more than doubled, to 50 in 2021 from just 20 in 2020, MediaRadar reported.

Anheuser-Busch InBev, whose hard seltzer brands include Bud Light and Michelob Ultra, topped ad spending in the category with a $72.2 million spend – or 31% of its total ad spend of $232.9 million.

Molson Coors, which owns Vizzy and launched the red-hot Topo Chico Hard Seltzer during the year but shuttered Coors Hard Seltzer, was the second biggest hard seltzer spender, at $60 million  -- or 37% of its total ad spend of $163.4 million 



Constellation Brands, which admitted to overestimating consumer demand for its Corona Hard Seltzer by writing off a $80 million “obsolescence charge” during the summer, followed in the category with a $40.4 million spend – or 11% of its total ad spend of $367.3million.

The fourth largest hard seltzer ad spender was Mark Anthony Group, owner of industry leader White Claw, which spent $37.2 million in the category --- or 69% of its total $54 million ad spend.

Boston Beer, home of multiple-flavor favorite Truly, placed fifth in hard seltzer ad spending at $27.2 million -- or 31% of its $87.7 million in total ad spend.

Overall, A-B InBev decreased its ad spend by 14% this year, with TV down 15% to $211.3 million, print down 7% to $1.4 million, and digital down 2% to $20.1 million – although it made “significant investments in OTT, mobile, and Facebook ads, with over $14 million being allocated to Facebook ad pushing.”

Molson Coors’ total ad spend was up 15% year-over-year, but it too pulled back dollars from TV, decreasing spend 3% to $96.2 million. However, the company increased digital spend 51% to $66.4 million and print spend 45% to $796,000. The company’s biggest spending increases were in podcasts and OTT, MediaRadar found.

Constellation also began shifting its dollars away from TV advertising, where its spend was down 2%, while upping magazine advertising 277% and Facebook advertising 125%.

Mark Anthony Group, meanwhile, “had a very expansive year in terms of branching out and pushing into new advertising formats,” MediaRadar reported. “TV [$41.9 million], print [$43,800] and digital ad spend ($12.5 million) are up over 1000%, 205% and 144% respectively,” with overall ad spend  up 663%.

Boston Beer also upped its total TV spend -- 22% to $66.8 million, but that paled in comparison to the advertisers’ digital jump – which nearly tripled (274%) to $20.7 million, with chief beneficiaries being Snapchat (more than ten times 2020) Facebook (up 386%), and OTT (up 368%). Print spend was $255,000, up 1%.

 “Now that the initial excitement is diminishing and top players are emerging in the hard seltzer category, marketing is more important than ever,” stated Todd Krizelman, CEO & co-founder, MediaRadar, in a statement. “We’re seeing hard seltzer brands diversifying their media mix to remain competitive and stand out.”

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