September 11-15, 2017

Blog Entries Tagged as marketing

Beverage Branding Fit for a Dragon

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Category: General Blogs  |  Tags: marketing


I came across a program while in the U.K. called “Dragons’ Den,” which is similar to the U.S.’s “Shark Tank” that airs on ABC. The dragons, like the sharks, are big time moneymakers in their respective industries and are looking for their next big investment. On this episode of “Dragons’ Den,” two men, Padrig and Dewi, present their toffee-flavored vodka, Toffoc, to the panel and ask for a £75,000 investment to help expand their brand. 

Though Padrig and Dewi had the backing of Michelin-starred celebrity chef Gary Rhodes, they revealed to the dragons that while the Anglesey-based company made a profit in its first year, the following two were not profitable. Dragon Hilary Devey, an English television star responds, “Well, something is wrong there isn’t it.”

Another dragon, Peter Jones, founder of the U.K.’s first Enterprise Academy, asks why Rhodes’ name isn’t on the bottle and how much he’s invested in the brand. His advice: “Get your celebrity endorser to do more work for you.”

The duo came up with the idea to create a toffee-flavored vodka about eight years ago while skiing in the French Alps. The spirit, apparently, is a popular drink choice among skiers there. This particular brand is available in Wales and retails for about £15 for a 70cl bottle, according to its website. The vodka, along with apparel and other swag items, also is available for purchase online. It is triple-distilled U.K. grain vodka that is infused with toffee that results in a clear, golden-hued liquid.

The dragons got to sample the vodka and most seemed impressed with the flavor and quality, remarking that the smell and taste were good. However, none of the five dragons were interested in investing in the brand. In the drinks industry we’ve seen scenarios like this before. A new product that is struggling to get the word out, partners with a celebrity or a pop culture entity, and then what? Does celebrity affiliation automatically equal success? 

That depends on the celebrity and the brand. I recall going to a Sopranos wine tasting at the Trump World Tower in New York City a few years ago. It was for a range of Italian wines that were branded with “The Sopranos” TV series that aired on HBO. While there was a lot of hype surrounding the brand at the time produced by The Sopranos Wine Co./Vesuvio Import Co. the buzz seemed to fizzle out with the show. 

On the other hand, take brands like Ciroc with P Diddy or Jim Beam’s Red Stag and its affiliation with Kid Rock. Those are two good examples of celebrity done right. That’s because these celebrities do more than just attach their name to a new brand, they embody that brand, they live it and they represent what that brand stands for. In turn, consumers that relate to a particular lifestyle—luxury or rock ’n’ roll in this case—directly relate to that brand.

While Padrig and Dewi seemed reluctant to get Rhodes more involved in their brand, saying that it was “their toffee” and not Rhodes, Jones was on target with his advice. A successful celebrity endorsement needs more than just a face or a name printed on a sell sheet; it requires an authenticity that consumers won’t compromise on—and neither will the dragons.  

BevStar Awards 2012: We Finally Have Our Winners!

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Category: General Blogs  |  Tags: marketing

After a lengthy judging process involving a record number of entries this year and a self-imposed media blackout until the official winners' issue started arriving this week, we are very pleased to announce the winners of the 2012 Beverage World BevStar Awards. For those just joining us, the BevStars recognize new product innovation across all of the major beverage categories.

We received a particularly robust shower of entries in the Energy & Functional category—so many that we decided to split it into two separate categories this year. It really reflects the level of innovation in those segments. If you recall from our 2012 State of the Industry report, energy drink volume returned to double-digit growth last year, with an increase of more than 17 percent in 2011, according to Beverage Marketing Corporation.

Without further ado, here's the list of this year's winners. For details on all of these brands, read the July 2012 issue of Beverage World. Congratulations to all!

Ruthless Rye IPA, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Gold: Ruthless Rye IPA, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Silver: Deviant Dale's IPA, Oskar Blues Brewing Co.
Bronze: Bronx Pale Ale, The Bronx Brewery

Gold: MyCause Water, Panacea Beverage Co.
Silver: Elevate Enhanced Fiber Water, 912 Corp.
Bronze: Karma Wellness Water, Karma Kulture LLC

Gold: Spindrift, Spindrift Soda co.
Silver: Dr Pepper Ten, Dr Pepper Snapple Group
Bronze: HotLips Cranberry Soda, HotLips Soda Co.

Gold: Monster Rehab, Monster Beverage Co.
Silver: Slap Frozen Energy, Brain-Twist
Bronze: Berry Rain, RevHoney

Gold: Neuro Sun, Neuro Beverage
Silver: Ralph & Charlie's Aloe, Ralph & Charlie's Beverage Co.
Bronze: Modjo Hydrate Elite, Cellutions

Gold: Honest (Not Too) Sweet Tea, Honest Tea
Silver: RealBeanz, RealBeanz LLC
Bronze: Tao of Tea, The Tao of Tea

Gold: Purgatory Vodka, Alaska Distillery
Silver: Apple Pie Moonshine, Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery
Bronze: BuzzBallz, BuzzBallz LLC

Gold: FlasqWines, JT Wines
Silver: Blanc de Bleu, Premium Vintage Cellars
Bronze: Xavier Flouret La Pilar Malbec, Cognac One LLC

For those brands that entered but didn't take a gold, silver or bronze in any of the categories, don't fret. Competition was particularly stiff this year and the decisions were all very difficult for all of us on the judging panel. And there's always next year. We'll be announcing a call for entries some time in December.

Who Comes Up With This Stuff?

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Category: General Blogs  |  Tags: marketing

Sometimes I wonder if some marketers are subconsciously trying to sabotage the very business they’re in and bring back Prohibition.

Okay, I admit, that’s a bit extreme, but with some of the shenanigans from a handful of brand marketers of late, you’d think they were hand-delivering ammunition for neo-prohibitionists wrapped in a convenient little package with a bow on top.

One such example occurred when a popular high-end vodka brand got a lot of flak for an ad it posted on its Facebook page that many said all but glorified rape. The uproar forced the company to pull the offending piece.

Anyone who’s attended any number of industry trade shows will know that such degradation is nothing new. In the conference components of such events, industry trade associations will implore the members of the alcohol marketing industry to not cheapen themselves and their brands with lowest-common-denominator nudie ads. But then, once the trade show floor opens, the booths that seem to be drawing the crowds are the ones with models wearing four-sizes-too-small bikini bottoms and nothing above the waist but body paint.

Many ad and marketing firms pride themselves on bringing in young, hip associates who’ve got the pulse of the coveted 21- to 29-year-old demo. But part of the problem is that, for many of these young, hungry ad execs, very little time passed between the frat house and the agency. And those with a little maturity and real-world experience seem to be put out to pasture when the little crystal embedded in the palms of their hand begins to blink as they near 30. (I’m dating myself using a “Logan’s Run” reference. There’s supposedly a remake coming starring Ryan Gosling, so the generation I’m mocking might one day be in on the joke.)

It’s also pretty troubling that people today seem to be the least knowledgeable about history (and a lot of other subjects, for that matter) than during any prior era. It’s almost as if some of them get their historical frame of reference from watching “Mad Men.” (“I want to go into advertising so I can party and conquer like Don Draper!”)

Which brings us back to Prohibition. It’s safe to say that there’s no one employed in the industry today who reached adulthood during Prohibition (Repeal predated my birth by nearly 40 years.) That’s why it’s critical for everyone entering the beverage market to bone up on their history.

The debauched free-for-all that some beverage marketers promote—and, let me be clear, it is but a small minority within a very responsible and upstanding industry—dangerously parallels the (hyperbolic and often downright false) image the Anti-Saloon League was trying to pin on the alcohol market, which ultimately led to the Volstead Act.

Since Repeal, the U.S. has had what is arguably the most orderly and effective system of alcohol marketing and distribution in the world. So let’s not ruin it by playing into the hands of fringe lobbyist groups that would like nothing more than to turn back the clock to 1920.

So Much Bad News!

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Category: General Blogs  |  Tags: marketing

I also thought of entitling this column, ‘We don’t get no respect!’ Either headline would work. What I am referring to is something that has been in the background of the beverage business for a long time: how consistently negative the coverage of this industry is by the mainstream news media.

Let me prove my point. Here’s a list, off the top of my head, of some of the ongoing news stories related to our industry we see in the headlines each week: Alcohol abuse, the obesity epidemic, energy drinks and teens, carcinogens in sodas, carcinogens in cans, drunken driving, water shortages, fungicide in orange juice, fizzling soda sales. Like I said, that’s just off the top of my head. I know there are plenty of others.

We all work in a business that many of us are quite proud to be associated with, and yet swirling around us every day is this cloud of negativity being constantly pushed by the 24-hour modern-day news cycles. Each day, it seems, there’s some new piece of bad news eating away at our industry—and our sense of pride in what we do.

The latest target of a lot of the media has been Pepsi, really ever since brand Pepsi dropped from being No. 2 to No. 3 behind Coke and Diet Coke. It all makes for dramatically entertaining news, and it sells papers and boosts website visits I’m sure.

Here’s another example from, from a story titled: “The Surprising Health Benefits of Beer.” “If you’ve got party plans this weekend, don’t be afraid to knock back a cold one,” the story begins. “Beer has several surprising health benefits. Despite beer’s bad reputation, it actually has a number of natural antioxidants and vitamins that can help prevent heart disease and even rebuild muscle. It also has one of the highest energy contents of any food or drink. Of course, this means you need to set limits—one beer gets you going, four makes you fat.” Even this good news is reluctantly spewed forth, couched in warnings and encouragements to move beyond our fears of a beverage that’s been loved by billions since, well, Ancient Egypt!

How did we come to find ourselves the constant butt of jokes, warnings and criticism? Part of the reason I think is that beverages are just so taken for granted by the modern day world, that it’s a dog-bites-man kind of thing. The only thing the news media think is of interest are the sensational or the downright negative. Perhaps if we sold iPads rather than soda pop, we’d get a little better press? (Bad example. Sometimes they don’t like you just because you’re too successful, too.)

Well here’s a solution. Maybe beverage companies should show off to the general public just what it is they do. Make it clear that producing, distributing and marketing a beverage is hard, complicated work and shouldn’t be taken for granted. That’s a story we tell in Beverage World each month. Maybe it’s time the rest of the world heard it too.

April Preview: Budweiser's Use of Social Media

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Category: General Blogs  |  Tags: marketing

Readers of the print edition of Beverage World each month may be familiar with our Connections section, where we look at how the emerging world of social media is being harnessed by beverage companies in their marketing programs. In the upcoming April edition, I explore some of the ways Anheuser-Busch is making use of social media to create deeper connections with its Budweiser consumers.

One of A-B's recent successes in this area was around a Super Bowl ad it ran in Canada, called Flash Fans 2012. It's a really great ad and I suggest you click on the link if you haven't already seen it.

When I interviewed Budweiser's global marketing director, Jorge Meza, for April's Connections article, he gave me a little bit more background about the ad:

“It’s such a moving piece,” he said. “it gives consumers a little bit of the flavor of what it means to live a dream.”

Meza says the response to the ad has been, "amazing," adding, "What’s interesting is that this video started only on Facebook and because of the viral power that it had, it very quickly generated half a million views. So, even before we actually had shown it during the Super Bowl, it was racking up views and a lot of buzz online. So by the time it was in the Super Bowl it was already a phenomenon in Canada.”

You can watch it here: Flash Fans 2012