Boozy Storytelling: How 3 Top Alcohol Brands Embrace Content Marketing

Since they’re often linked with desirable lifestyles, alcohol brands reportedly reach one of the highest engagement rates for their media content (along with car brands). The best alcohol content marketing strategies combine a meticulously crafted, highly desirable lifestyle with actionable ways to integrate the dream into the customer’s life. Or if you’re Budweiser, just have really cute baby horses.  Here’s our all-star lineup of content marketing booze brands.

1) Budweiser's Clydesdales: A story of a brand and their horse

Budweiser, one of the most successful beers in the world, has been associated with Clydesdale horses since 1983. During February’s Super Bowl XLVII, the marketing-savvy brand reimagined the iconic partnership in a completely new way. In an ad entitled "Brotherhood", they told the story of a lasting friendship between a man and the horse he raised from birth. Featuring an unabashedly saccharine score from Fleetwood Mac, the minute-long spot follows a baby Clydesdale and his young male companion on an idyllic farm before the owner sends the majestic creature off to be a Budweiser Clydesdale. Years later, the man ventures to a city parade to see his friend again, dismayed that the beast doesn’t seem to remember him. In the final moments of the commercial, the horse recognizes his old friend, gallops down the city street, and the two reunite in a heartfelt embrace.The ad effortlessly unfolds into a touching ode to the bonds we create, break, and find again; and it stole the hearts of millions of sports fans.

But Budweiser’s true marketing genius shone in the conclusion of the ad: they asked viewers to participate in the naming of the adorable foal shown in the commercial by using the hashtag #Clydesdales. In addition to the campaign’s success, everyone from Jimmy Fallon to country singer Hillary Scott used the hashtag to express awe for the ad itself.  It was an appeal that kept the word “Budweiser” on the minds and lips of viewers for much more than a minute, and yet no one ever actually talked about beer.

THE STRATEGY: Put a face on the product. Preferably a very cute face.

2) Johnnie Walker's quest for Instagram domination

Last year, when whisky giant Johnnie Walker saw that Facebook had acquired Instagram, the iconic brand saw an opportunity for total social media domination. Already 4 million fans strong on Facebook, they set out to become one of the top brands on Instagram within six months. In a stroke of new media genius, the brand tapped the sizable networks of three amateur photographers who had already found meteoric fame on the photo-sharing social networking platform (each Instagram wunderkind boasted upwards of 100,000 followers). The photographers were taken on “brand journeys”, granted unprecedented access into the world of Johnnie Walker, and given control of the Johnnie Walker Instagram feed. Each one populated the feed with exclusive images while directing their own vast networks to the Johnnie Walker brand. To take advantage of their success on Facebook, Johnnie Walker also used an app that updated the brand's Facebook cover photo directly from the Instagram account, live streaming images of Johnnie Walker prestige via the Internet’s favourite photographers. The vastly successful campaign went on until late last September.

THE STRATEGY: Embrace change while remaining timeless.

3) An opulent French lifestyle, brought to you by Stella Artois of Belgium

Stella Artois’ 2011 Superbowl ad, featuring a suave Adrien Brody serenading a hazy bar full of fawning women, was critiqued for giving the impression that the Belgium-brewed lager is French. But just take a quick look around the Stella Artois website and you’ll see that this identity crisis runs very deep.

One of the more successful brands of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer, Stella’s colossal success actually compromised its desired reputation as “exclusive”: its low price point coupled with a high ABV percentage meant favour with the working-to-middle class, earning the brand the unsavoury nickname of “wifebeater” for a time.

But throughout the years, Stella has been dogged in its upmarket advertising strategy. For a time, its slogan was “Reassuringly Expensive”, to complement the upscale French Riviera sensibility seen in those TV spots that looked like 1960s European art cinema. More recently, film and photography heavyweights like Annie Leibovitz and known francophile Wes Anderson have lent their talents to help keep Stella “a thing of beauty”. The brand’s official blog La Société includes profiles on sartorially distinguished gentlemen and a quicklist of the foreign films every guy should see.

Stella is also a longtime sponsor of the Cannes International Film Festival. This year they hosted a Stella Artois Lounge for exclusive conversations with major stars, plastering their name and unmistakable logo behind the smiling faces of Zoe Saldana and Laura Dern among others. As part of their Cannes partnership mission statement, the brand’s site waxes poetic: “Even though the craft of cinema is constantly evolving with new technology and minds, at its core a captivating story will always exist. It’s this fundamental principle that makes a film enchanting, and it’s the same principle that makes Stella Artois a thing of beauty.”

THE STRATEGY: Pick an image and stick with it.

Which booze behemoths did we miss? Let  us know in the comments below.

Tags: alcohol, budweiser, content, Content Marketing, Johnnie Walker, marketing, Social Media, social media, Stella Artois