Aaron Baar; MarketingDive, November 5

Dive Brief:

  • Spirits company Brown-Forman unveiled a relaunch of its Cheers to the Host website, which offers food and drink recipes along with other entertaining ideas, according to information shared with Marketing Dive.
  • The revamped site, which was developed with agency Blue Chip, places less emphasis on the company’s products, which include Jack Daniel’s, Woodford Reserve and Korbel, and more on elements of at-home entertaining, including food recipes and decorating ideas.
  • With the goal in mind of making Cheers to the Host a digital lifestyle content brand for at-home hosts, the company will promote the site throughout the year through digital and physical channels, including occasion-based Pinterest boards and ads, as well as neck hangers on in-store products.
Dive Insight:

With the approach of the holiday season, a time when consumers tend to think more about home entertaining, the revamped website extends an ethos Brown-Forman and other alcohol marketers adopted earlier this year, as consumers stopped heading to bars, restaurants, and other events where they might encounter the distillery’s brands, which has put pressure on sales. Brown-Forman reported a 2% sales dip during its most recent quarterly earnings report. Several of the company’s brands fared well in the U.S. but saw declines in other regions.

As consumers eschew stores for online ordering and delivery, the brand needed a method to reach buyers online. The revamped site’s Where to Buy section directs users to places where they can order products online and has enhanced access to Brown-Forman’s interactive “Whiskey Whisperer” Facebook chatbot to further educate people about the properties of different whiskeys.

Brown-Forman recognizes consumers are also spending more time online shopping and consuming content, looking for sources of inspiration for home-based entertaining, a need the new site tries to meet.

“Consumers’ new discovery zone is at home online,” Loren Catrambone, Brown-Forman’s group manager of customer marketing for national accounts, said in a statement. “We’ve counted on bartenders and servers to introduce people to new varieties and drink options, and on retail staff to inform brand decisions. Now, we need to give people a more comprehensive, inviting source of ideas and resources.”

The new site is meant to serve as a central resource for people as they search for new hosting ideas and products, Catrambone continued. Indeed, the site includes much of the content Brown-Forman created for a virtual happy hour campaign earlier this year. In June, Brown-Forman brand Jack Daniel’s launched a branded web series, the “Drag Queen Mukbang,” merging drag queen brunches and mukbang videos in which presenters film themselves eating food.

As the pandemic has decreased opportunities for in-store and in-bar marketing programs, alcohol companies have looked to reach consumers at home. Bud Light Selzer is expected to launch an expanded at-home sampling program this month after a successful experiment this summer. Coors Light in April gave away free beer in a social media stunt in the early days of the lockdown.

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