The Best Alcohol Brand Activations Served This Year

Move over, Budweiser. A new “King of Beers” is here, though “Dude of Beers” may be a better title. That’s because, recently, the media has been abuzz about actor Jeff Bridges, who in 2019’s short four months, represented two beer brands, Stella Artois and Amstel. Bridges is best known for his role as ‘The Dude’ in the movie The Big Lebowski, which he reprised in Stella Artois’s Super Bowl ad. And while the move by Amstel to use him, too, left many scratching their heads, the noise has also focused on the big impact of Amstel’s ad. It depicts Bridges as a bridge, his arms connecting two sides of a canal in Amsterdam. This is where the brand’s original brewery was once located. Before grabbing an Amstel-branded glass of beer to toast people perched on his arms and located nearby, Bridges tells:

“You see a bridge is not just a physical structure that connects two places. No, they allow people to come together, find common ground, and literally bridge their differences. They’re powerful things, man. So, from the city of bridges, here’s to togetherness.”

The goal, per an article, was to show Amstel as “a brand that brings people together.” To share this idea, the Heineken-owned brand will run the ad on TV and via other on-screen mediums. It will also bring the commercial “to life” for what’s reported to be the brand’s “biggest ever in-store activation.” This is on top of PR and social efforts, making it a comprehensive campaign. But the article makes a point to note no confirmation of plans for “experiential takeovers of bridges.” And, that’s worth noting, since the best alcohol brand activations thus far in 2019 are doing what Amstel claims to do – bring people together.

Alcohol brand promotions

Why 2019’s Best Alcohol Brand Activations Bring People Together

It would be surprising not to see Heineken use alcohol experiential marketing as part of its new campaign. After all, one of the company’s VPs recently shared the importance of connecting with consumers “in an engaging way, in a two-way conversation”. This is versus simply “shouting” the message. It’s why Heineken is always found at Coachella and other festivals, as well as sponsoring sporting events, executing top-notch brand activations. The brand knows that alcohol experiential marketing, like its products, serves as a bridge. Such an activation can provide a true forum for people to come together over common interests, whether music or soccer, no matter their differences.

Why Millennials and Gen Z Crave Community

Having this forum is important to millennials, of whom 69% report a desire to be more active in their local communities. Further, 70% say they are happiest when they feel connected to their co-workers. In fact, they are the generation most likely to be found at a happy hour. Nearly half go to get to know co-workers better, and a third want to enjoy time with these peers. This is important for brands because those that practice such inclusion, too, are the ones millennials choose time and again. And, it continues with Gen Z, whose eldest Gen Z members are now at drinking age and a couple years older. They place the utmost value on time with friends, as well as family, making community just as important to them. Yet, both groups come with challenges.

The Challenges of Alcohol Brand Marketing with Younger Consumers

Neither millennials nor Gen Z spends as much time as their elders imbibing alcohol. They prefer healthier lifestyles, and new research shows they also worry about the lasting mark a night out can leave on social media. In fact, non-alcoholic beer sales continue to grow – an average 3.9% for the past five years. And, non-alcoholic cocktails are trending, too, with unlikely brands like Coca-Cola throwing their hats in the ring. It’s a smart move considering millennials’ preferences for wine and spirits (spirits only for Gen Z). Yet, it only adds to the heavy competition. In turn, all alcohol brands must get creative to get attention and unite everyone for the good of the brand.

3 Ways Alcohol Experiential Marketing Serves Up What Today’s Consumers Want

These alcohol brand activations of 2019 step out of the box to deliver what’s necessary to thrive.

Center around a cause.

Bacardi live brand events

Near 40% of millennials and 60% of Gen Z want to change the world. And, they look for brands with the same values. Premium tequila brand Patron fits the bill by leading the way in sustainability in its industry. And, it took the opportunity to show targeted consumers around the world its commitment this past Earth Day. The brand, now owned by Bacardi, partnered with like-minded venues to bring environmentally-conscious cocktails and food to patrons. In London, for example, an exclusive event offered a cocktail masterclass and a three-course meal with Patron cocktails. The latter used “otherwise discarded” ingredients to reduce waste.

Be a destination, not a watering hole.

With ‘drinking’ taking a back seat to other activities, alcohol brands are no longer able to attract consumers with free drinks. Instead, they must heighten their focus on the experience. They must find and execute creative ways to introduce their products in the process. The premium gin brand Monkey 47 gives us a shining example with its recent NYC pop-up, dubbed ‘The Wild Monkey’. Its timing was well executed, taking into consideration the start of ‘gin season’ and film events that were under way. To draw crowds from the latter, the brand hosted private industry events. These include the taping of a new celebrity podcast focused on cocktails and conversation and a launch party for a new magazine. Still, anyone could come by for other activation elements, such as interactive installations, photo opportunities, and even mocktails. Visitors also got a transparent look at the gin product through creative storytelling, like a botanical wall showcasing its ingredients and their origin.

Help attendees let go.

Knowing how fearful Gen Z is of the combination of alcohol and social media, brands who help them relax are favorable. This is especially true considering the importance they place on their mental health. It comes second after spending time with family and friends. Desperados, a Heineken brand of tequila-flavored lager beer, hosted a light show house party that delivered on both these needs. Upon entry, attendees traded their phones for free beer. The phones then linked together to create a light show, which synced to display animations timed with music. This effort was one of several alcohol brand activations to come in the brand’s ‘Epic Parties Imagined by You’ campaign, in which consumers come up with party ideas. And it provides another great idea to find common ground with consumers and bring us all together.

At Elevate, we’ve had the opportunity to provide the human element for alcohol brand activations of all kinds. It’s our people who help bridge the differences and unite consumers in support of a brand. Contact us for your event and experiential staffing needs.

Author: Kelly Springs-Kelley

Kelly Springs-Kelley is the Marketing Director at Elevate Staffing. When she's not creating content or pondering the future of in-person consumer engagement, Kelly can be found hiking the mountains of Arizona with her 2 kids and 3 dogs.

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