Alcohol advertising has been rising steadily for decades—according to a study by the University of Texas, beer, wine, and spirit company ad spending has increased by an average of 10% per year over the last forty years (Adweek). As social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter become better at identifying user age and establishing safeguards to protect young audiences, alcoholic beverage brands are diverting more of their marketing budgets to digital advertising in an effort to engage audiences that now spend hours a day on social media platforms.
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we take a look at how some of the world’s biggest alcohol companies are partnering with magnetic Instagrammers to creatively market their brands—and the lifestyles associated with those brands—to consumers.
Because many alcoholic beverage brands leverage the appeal of a particular lifestyle (think Corona’s “Find Your Beach” campaign or Absolut Vodka’s nightlife-focused ads) to sell their products, creative partnerships with lifestyle influencers are fast-becoming an effective way for spirit and beer companies to reach large audiences while reinforcing the brand’s identity and messaging. Collaborating with today’s top social media stars to produce or promote sponsored content not only offers alcohol brands a way to put a human face on the lifestyle their beverage espouses (relevance and trust are especially important for online audiences), it also creates a channel through which brands can engage with consumers and develop communities of brand advocates within an influencer’s vast circle of followers.
Federal Trade Commission guidelines (which protect those under the legal drinking age from exposure to alcohol advertising) have kept beer, wine, and spirit brands from fully investing in influencer marketing and other forms of social media advertising for years. According to Shareen Pathak at Digiday, research firm L2 found that alcoholic beverage companies were hesitant to market on Instagram since, at the time, there wasn’t an accurate way to know the age of any given user, and many social media platforms had no way to reliably determine if over 71.6% of users were of “legal purchasing age” (the current FTC requirement, as reported by SproutSocial).
Today, social media platforms have become more adept at collecting data on users, and as metrics verify that platforms like Instagram have reached the 71.6% mark, alcohol brands have begun flooding into the digital space. Tequila producer Patrón, for example, told Adweek’s Lauren Johnson that digital spending was up 30% in the last year, and Digiday’s Shareen Pathak reported that about 97% of spirits brands are now marketing on Instagram, up from 82% last year, nearly a 20% yearly increase.
Creating a marketing campaign around a particular lifestyle is key for many alcohol producers, and Instagram’s visual medium lends itself exceedingly well to showcasing the brand’s product in an array of aspirational settings. By collaborating with top Instagrammers and lifestyle bloggers, beer and spirit companies can reinforce brand identity by tying their campaign to a social media star’s lifestyle and increase brand exposure among the digital influencer’s large following.
Lifestyle blogger and top men’s Instagram influencer Aaron Marino (aaronmarino) partnered with spirit-maker New Amsterdam for a series of simple-yet-engaging posts. The aesthetic of Marino’s social media channel and the lifestyle he embraces meshed well with New Amsterdam’s high-class brand identity, leading to exceptional levels of engagement among Marino’s audience. As part of a larger, comprehensive multiplatform influencer marketing strategy, New Amsterdam also partnered with Marino to concurrently create YouTube channel content for his million subscriber channel.
@Cncpts x #Heineken100 on ? • #NorthofMAN @Heineken • @TeamEpiphany • #Menswear #Style #Presence • A photo posted by Eliezer Infante (@elisoul01) on
For its #Heineken100 marketing campaign, Netherlands-based brewer Heineken partnered with top men’s influencers, clothing designers, and boutiques to create a line of branded menswear worthy of the beermaker’s cool, refined identity. In this example of how a social media star can favorably showcase a brand’s product, fashion Instagrammer Eliezer Infante (elisoul01) exposes Heineken’s branded apparel to fashion and lifestyle audiences across Instagram.
Cheers my friends ?✌️!! Thanks @becks_it ? #becksunacademy #beckstage #subsonica A photo posted by Stefano Tratto (@stefanotratto) on
With nearly 1 million engaged followers, Italian men’s lifestyle Instagrammer Stefano Tratto (stefanotratto) is one of the world’s most recognizable social media and digital influencers. This simple post alone promoting German-brewed Beck’s garnered close to 11K likes from beer lovers from around the world. Cheers!