Southern Comfort Follows Its Target Demographic Online

With spirits consumption continuing to grow in the U.S., Southern Comfort is boosting its presence online via its SoCo Music Experience.

The Louisville, Ky., division of Brown-Forman will be posting episodic content -- from backstage interviews, fan perspective and excerpts of live performances from the SoCo-sponsored events on sites such as Pitchfork.tv, Heavy.com, My Damn Channel, Complex.com and Death + Taxes.

"We target the 21-29 year-old demographic, and they're spending more and more time on the Internet," said company representative Sean Wachsman. "With this, we can bring relevant content to them via those sites."

Since 2005, the company has run the SoCo Music Experience mostly as a local promotion, taking out print ads in the local markets where concerts featuring national music acts such as The Roots, Common and The Flaming Lips, take place. (Sites this year include San Diego, Madison, Wisc., and Saratoga/Albany, N.Y.) But as the program has grown, company executives felt the time was right to take the promotion to a larger audience, via the Internet.

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"We think we've gotten the program to a place where we can leverage it online," Wachsman says. "We've grown it to a point where we can bring it to a more national audience."

The first video, appearing on Heavy.com, features footage from the SoCo Musical Experience in Atlanta, with fans discussing the bands and their pre-concert rituals, as well as quick snippets from the bands about how they put together a set list or prepare to go onstage. The video ends with a responsibility message, which Wachsman stressed was an important part of the program.

With the program, Southern Comfort will increase its online spend by 300%, according to Wachsman, who declined to give specific numbers. The company partnered with the five sites due to the breadth of appeal - from music to fashion and lifestyle -- with the target demographic. In addition to those sites, pre-roll videos of the festivals will run on music and entertainment sites such as Hulu.com, Billboard, UGO.com and PasteMagazine.com.

"Online has become a very important part of our marketing mix," Wachsman says.

According to the Beverage Information Group in Norwalk, Conn., distilled spirits consumption rose 2.8% in 2007, marking the tenth consecutive year of volume growth for the distilled spirits industry. Projections for 2008 have consumption increasing to 184.5 million cases, up another 1.6%.

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