The alcohol industry has rolled out a new set of marketing strategies to ensure they don’t loose anymore profit while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to hold the world in its grip. Targeting kids and exploiting the coronavirus crisis to promote alcohol use are cornerstone strategies…

Movendi international previously reported how the alcohol industry was using the pandemic early on to promote and normalize alcohol use. As the pandemic continues and most people remain largely restricted to their homes lifestyles and behaviors are changing even more.

The World Health Organization has recommended limiting access to alcohol during the pandemic and lockdown due to many reasons. This includes threats to physical distancing as alcohol is usually consumed in gatherings, alcohol’s negative effect on the immune system and alcohol’s heavy burden on the healthcare system and emergency services due to alcohol-related accidents, injuries, and diseases.

Much of the on-trade alcohol sales such as in restaurants, bars, pubs and clubs continue to decline as many venues remain closed or under strict limitations. Therefore, Big Alcohol is devising new ways to keep people consuming alcohol through, for instance through e-commerce and social media marketing strategies.

Virtual events

Big Alcohol is using virtual events to promote brands and make sure people consume alcohol despite the current public health crisis. One example is AB InBev’s “virtual beer festival” to mark International Beer Day. AB InBev used multiple social media channels including Facebook, YouTube Instagram and Twitter as well as a dedicated website to market this event and promote alcohol use.

The event possibly targeted the younger demographic that is missed through traditional media marketing such as on TV. Young people use social media more and the event was geared to attract social media users.

Influencer marketing

While influencer marketing took a hit in the beginning of the pandemic because this type of marketing relies on lifestyles, Big Alcohol has found a way to use lifestyle marketing during the current COVID-19 crisis to promote alcohol through influencer marketing.

The tequila brand Jose Cuervo launched a weekly YouTube series titled “Who’s making margs?”. The online event series puts celebrities behind the bar and asks them to share, make and consume their custom margaritas (which coincidentally always include Jose Curevo tequila). During the virtual party, the celebrities interact with fans as they don’t want to consume their tequila alone and viewers on Jose Cuervo’s YouTube Channel can learn the special margarita recipes and win some prizes. So far, T-Pain, Ilana Glazer, Lil Dicky, and Keke Palmer have featured in the marketing stunt making a mockery of the alcohol industry slogan to consume “responsibly” and clearly targeting the younger generation.

Jose Cuervo is jumping on the trend that consumers like to watch cooking and mixology videos while making cocktails at home.

The integration with Discord allows the brand to facilitate community conversations, a move to help make the virtual cocktail hour more like an in-person event. By revealing the host each week on social media, the brand is attempting to boost its followers over several weeks.

This format seeks to boost brands’ desire to connect with homebound consumers during the pandemic. To that end, Jose Cuervo leverages entertaining, multiple interactive engagement opportunities, like completing different challenges, and encouragement to come back week after week to see a new celebrity host.

Branching out

To maintain brand image and brand loyalty of people the alcohol industry has begun branching out to use other merchandise.

Capitalizing on the accelerating online shopping trends during the pandemic, Bud Light – an AB InBev product – launched a “limited-edition unisex streetwear line inspired by summer, Midwestern childhoods and American culture” in partnership with Darryl Brown of Midwest Kids clothing. The collection was promoted with the hashtag #MIDWESTBREWED.

The strategy behind investing in merchandise marketing is not only to promote brand image and brand loyalty; it is also about the merchandise giving Big Alcohol deeper insight into their consumer base which can be used in refining marketing and increasing brand consumption in the future.

“Helping” local bars and pubs

Another strategy of Big Alcohol is to promote their brands under the guise of “helping” local business. For example, AB InBev collaborated with Tigor Pistol a local social ad platform in the USA. The aim was to get more people to go to local bar and restaurant partners.

This partnership is, however, not so much about “helping” local bars and pubs as it is about self-interest in promoting AB InBev product sales in the beer giant’s global network of bars and pubs.

Also this initiative is about creating personal connections with people through local activations – a clear priority of the alcohol industry. Retailers, restaurants and bars that sell AB InBev products use the new platform to generate ads from their own Facebook Page to help drive local people into their locations.

Alcohol industry targets children

Alcohol, gambling and junk food brands are targeting their advertising at channels aimed at children, according to a new study by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The Advertising Standards Authority is the self-regulatory organisation of the advertising industry in the United Kingdom, funded by the industry. Nevertheless, the ASA published a new report summarizing the latest online advertising monitoring to tackle age-restricted ads appearing in children’s media.

Over a three-month period, the report shows the ASA identified that 159 age-restricted ads broke the advertising rules in its first of four monitoring exercises. Gambling brands were a big offender, with 70 different betting promotions found on eight websites in the period between April and June 2020. The probe also found ten different alcohol ads from one brand appeared on one website targeting children.

Diageo exploits online search trends “hawklike”

Deploying a large team of digital marketing specialists to closely track what consumers are chatting about or searching for online, Diageo early into the lockdown they noticed high numbers of searches for baking luxurious desserts at home.

They tipped off the Baileys liqueurs division, who had already been running campaigns to use the drink in puddings.


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EveningStandard.: “How Diageo kept Brits drinking during the lockdown with digital tech (and Baileys banoffee pie)