Tipping Bartenders From Home

With most bartenders currently out of work due to mandated bar closures and social distancing, consumers and companies are stepping up to help them get through this with virtual tips. The hashtag #VirtualTipJar shows how many have set up ways to donate from Venmo to GoFundMe to dedicated websites.

One of the biggest contributors so far has been Miller Lite. They announced a $1,000,000 donation to the Bartender Emergency Assistance Program set up by the United States Bartender’s Guild, and are encouraging others to donate.

Ryan Reynolds’ company Aviation Gin is also contributing to the USBG fund. Through May 1st, they will be donating 30% of all their online sales.

The Aviation Gin website also mentions that the company already “started a tab” with a $15,000 donation.

Why It’s Hot

As communities do their best to rally around those who need it most right now, it’s encouraging to see how brands are doing their part to contribute and provide ways to help.



Booze Brands React to Dry January

Abstaining from alcohol for the first month of the year has become a global phenomenon, an unofficial cultural event. One in five Americans goes dry for the month, and with numbers like that, it’s also become the newest major marketing opportunity for booze companies. As the “sober curious” trend picks up steam—66% of millennials are making efforts to reduce their alcohol consumption—Dry January is a gateway for brands to convince you to keep drinking their low- and non-alcoholic booze all year round.

We’re only a couple weeks in but already Heineken has won the Dry January sweepstakes with its boozeless advent calendar. The brand, which launched its 0.0 beer a year ago and backed it with a $50 million marketing budget in 2019, began giving away its January Dry Pack in late December for free from a custom website and quickly ran out. Meanwhile, it’s still working hard to remind us all that its 0.0 brew is the best way to make it through the month.

MillerCoors used the prospect of Dry January to give those dry-curious another option, getting Succession‘s Nicholas Braun to go full Gregg the Egg with some very “We Hear For You” vibes.

In August 2019, Diageo acquired non-alcoholic spirits company Seedlip and quite purposely chose Dry January as the jump-off point to launch its first-ever brand campaign, which kicked off this week. “Dry January is a big thing for Seedlip,” says Diageo North America CMO Ed Pilkington, whose company has also invested in Ritual non-alcoholic spirits and has been ramping up marketing in recent years behind overall moderation with brands like Ketel One and Crown Royal. He says the brand is using the month to elbow in on the growing popularity of mocktail menus. “Our first big U.S. campaign is saying, ‘Hey it’s Dry January and you can drink Seedlip any time and anywhere’,” says Pilkington.

AB InBev has declared its goal to make 20% of its beer sales from low to non-alcoholic beer by 2025. It owns grocery store staple O’Douls, but has in recent years also launched Budweiser Prohibition brew in Canada and Budweiser 0.0 in other markets. “We view [Dry January] as an opportunity,” says Adam Warrington, AB InBev’s VP of corporate social responsibility. “What you can do with your marketing is drive up the awareness of the category, drive consideration, and this is a perfect time to be part of those conversations.”

Non-alcoholic beer startup Athletic Brewing has been going gangbusters since it opened its taps in 2018, and so far this month e-commerce sales (which typically make up between 30% and 50% of its overall business) are up 40% from December. The company also ramps up its in-store promotions and displays to remind dry folks that they do have other options. For founder Bill Shufelt, Dry January isn’t just about a one month sales spike. “It’s much easier to introduce ourselves to customers in January,” he says, “and we find a lot of those customers stick with us throughout the rest of the year.”

Why it’s hot: It’s a given that alcohol brands react to this strong cultural trend (especially among millennials) — some are winning this month of opportunity better than others.

Source: FastCo

The Gift of “Icing” With Smirnoff

This holiday season, Smirnoff rolled out the perfect joke gift. They created a fake luxury home brand, Cremisiffino, with boxes that display a range of products from hand-held mixers to ironing boards. But in reality, the only item inside is a bottle of Smirnoff Ice.

Smirnoff Ice ″Cremsiffino″ Boxes

They’re playing off the trend of “icing” that’s been around for years now–where someone hides a bottle of Smirnoff Ice, and the unsuspecting recipient who finds it is supposed to kneel and chug the bottle.

While the official Cremisiffino box was set at a pretty steep price, $10 for an empty box and $20 for a box including one bottle, Smirnoff announced on Twitter that they sold out within 2 days.

Why It’s Hot

While the boxes are simple, the idea of combining white elephant prank gifts with the icing prank is a smart way to keep Smirnoff top of mind and in social feeds for the holidays.



The beer industry is moving forward on a new campaign meant to combat rising competition from wine and spirits, despite ongoing hostility between the nation’s two largest brewers.

MillerCoors remains on the sidelines of the so-called “Beer Growth Initiative” as a way to protest what it says are unfair attack ads by Anheuser-Busch InBev, which has called out MillerCoors for using corn syrup during its brewing process. In a new statement to Ad Age, MillerCoors said: “We were happy to have participated in the early stages of the category health initiative, because we believe deeply in its value. We look forward to re-engaging that work whenever the country’s largest brewer stops denigrating ingredients used by almost every brewer, including themselves.”

The initiative, which counts participation from three trade groups representing distributors, big brewers and craft brewers, last month began testing a new campaign called “Beers to That” by rolling it out in Austin, Texas. The 90-day Austin effort includes digital advertising, experiential events, point-of-sale materials and out-of-home ads. The goal is to push beer for multiple occasions, well beyond beer’s traditional sports-viewing stronghold.

Ads plug beer for celebrating everything from “lazy Sundays” to Mercury being “out of retrograde”—a reference only astrology geeks could love.

Website: https://beerstothat.com/

“Maybe 20 or 15 years ago we were content to own the pro sports and the Nascar” but “that is not where all the consumers are today,” Craig Purser, president and CEO of the National Beer Wholesalers Association, said in the latest edition of Ad Age’s Marketer’s Brief podcast, where he shared details about the new campaign.

The NBWA, which represents about 3,000 beer distributors nationwide, is leading the campaign along with the Beer Institute, which represents big brewers—including MillerCoors and AB InBev—as well as the Brewers Association, a craft brewers trade group.

The effort comes as the liquor industry continues to make gains. According to a Gallup poll released in August, 29 percent of U.S. drinkers named liquor as their preferred drink, up from 21 percent 10 years ago. In that time, beer’s share has fallen from 40 percent to 38 percent. In 1993, 47 percent of drinkers named beer as their top choice, according to Gallup.

Source: Ad Age

Why It’s Hot

Always good to have advertising + beer news! But this is also interesting as a category-wide effort in a heavily brand-driven world. Will be interesting to see though how the Austin pilot works and how this rolls out more widely.


All drinks are on the house

A new bar opened its doors in St. Louis, and it’s charging customers by the hour. According to Open Concept’s website, when you open a tab, you’re paying for access to the space — not the booze. The rates: $10/hr for a regular open bar, and $20 for top-shelf liquor.

The entire experience is powered by a backend technology that the bar developed and owns. Customers are encouraged to buy their time in advance on the bar’s website, though walk-ins are also accepted. (Guests are able to tip the bartenders either in advance at the door or with cash after each order.) Those who booked online will receive a confirmation code to show at the door; all customers also receive text messages at the bar alerting them as to how much time they have left on their booking.

Open Concept also uses its technology to track all of a customer’s consumption and keep the bar in compliance with legal limits.

Founder and proprietor, Michael Butler, who also moonlights as the city’s current recorder of deeds, got the idea from fundraising parties while running for office after open-bar fundraising events were successful during his campaign.

Why it’s hot:
At a time when younger generations are notoriously cutting back on their alcohol consumption, that flat guaranteed rate might be more valuable than hoping customers keep buying more the longer they stay.

White Claw Shortage! (sorry, I had to)

America is running out of White Claw hard seltzer, and the shortage might not end until next year.

White Claw sales have skyrocketed over the past year, according to the company and industry analysts. The company can’t keep up with demand. So White Claw has purposefully limited supply to ensure it can continually serve all of its markets.
That distribution practice, called allocation, has been in place for a year, according to Mark Anthony Brands, which owns White Claw and Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Stores across the United States receive a constant flow of White Claw, but the drink’s distributors aren’t increasing the volume of shipments to stores that run out.
The company said it will continue allocate White Claw until supply returns to normal. But the spiked seltzer maker also said it’s “working around the clock” to increase supply and capacity heading into 2020.
“While not completely eliminating intermittent stock outs, we believe this strategy has helped us be in the best position possible on shelf,” Phil Rosse, White Claw’s president, said in a statement. “But with the tremendous response we have had from consumers, understandably, our supply chain has tightened.”
Spiked seltzer is now a billion dollar industry. Sales of hard seltzer surpassed $1 billion for the past year ending in August — a surge of nearly 200% compared to the previous year, according to Nielsen. Hard seltzer makes up 2.5% of the alcohol market, up from 0.9% a year ago.
Despite the growing number of rivals, White Claw remains the industry leader. Sales are up 250% year over year, according to Nielsen.
Source: CNN Business
Why It’s Hot: Because Hot Sauce loves this story.

Four Loko teases a hard seltzer with almost triple the alcohol content of White Claw as booze makers battle to win over ‘bros’

Four Loko appears to be entering the battle to become the drink of choice for the modern “bro” with a new hard seltzer.

On Tuesday, Four Loko posted images on Twitter and Instagram showing a Four Loko seltzer labeled the “hardest seltzer in the universe,” with 14% alcohol by volume. For comparison, White Claw has an ABV of 5%.

“Hard Seltzers ran so we could fly,” the caption reads.

The hard-seltzer business is booming, with sales increasing by more than 200% over the past year, according to Nielsen. Over the Fourth of July weekend, the drink was the top-growing segment in the beer category.

Hard-seltzer-loving bros have been crucial to the beverage’s success, Business Insider’s Bethany Biron reported.

“Throw a dart at my fraternity composite, and you’ll find a guy who’s into hard seltzer,” a college junior and fraternity member told Biron.

White Claw — owned by the private company Mark Anthony, which also operates Mike’s Hard Lemonade — currently dominates, with about 50% of hard-seltzer market share. But other companies are eager to cash in on those seeking hard seltzer with higher ABVs, especially as younger drinkers ditch beer.

This week, Natural Light and PBR announced their own hard seltzers. Natural Light’s hard seltzer is 6% ABV, while PBR’s is 8% ABV.Four Loko seltzer’s 14% ABV would be the highest in the increasingly crowded market. Four Loko, owned by the Chicago alcoholic-beverage company Phusion Projects, did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for further information about the drink.

Why it’s Hot
Picking up on trends we talked about a few weeks ago, this hard seltzer business is somehow picking up even more steam, and getting more ridiculous.

One Brand’s Trash is Another’s Treasure

To align with Columbus Day, Astral Tequila presented “Columbus Day: A Reenactment,” an ad starring Jonathan Goldsmith, the Artist Formerly Known as the Most Interesting Man in the World.


At the end of the video, Goldsmith breaks the fourth wall to address us, the viewing audience, directly: “That is pretty much how it happened.” Cue a close-up of a bottle of Astral Tequila and, on-screen, “Happy Columbus Day.”

To say that Columbus’ legacy is complicated is a vast understatement.

When you touch upon this realm, there’s sure to be backlash, but they’re not taking sides, they’re making light of what we know as the facts: An explorer set out for India and landed in a new world, one already inhabited albeit, although he claimed to have found it.

“Our spot is simply lampooning Christopher Columbus’ journey,” says Astral VP-Marketing Joen Choe in a statement provided by Erich and Kallman, the agency of record for the Davos Brands tequila. Choe added that Columbus “set out for India, but bumped into America instead. We are certainly not making light of any historical events.”

Why Its Hot:

I’m steering clear of the controversial nature of “Columbus Day” theme and going for what I like most about this spot: re-purposing of a commercial celebrity. It reminds me of the ‘can you hear me now’ guy’s resurrection by Sprint. One brand’s trash is another’s treasure!

Jose Cuervo Mixes a Margarita in Space

In honor of National Margarita Day last Sunday, Jose Cuervo and its agency, McCann New York, used aerospace technology and GPS tracking to launch container of margarita ingredients heavenward, hoping to mix a cocktail in space and parachute it back to Earth.

They teamed up with independent space program JP Aerospace, along with scientists who led the Phoenix Mission to Mars, to build and launch the spacecraft.

Severe buffeting of winds at high altitude shook the margarita, and the extreme cold froze it. When the capsule reached about 100,000 feet into space, the weather balloons shattered and the capsule parachuted down. The margarita landed in a ravine 100 miles from the launch site.


Watch the video

Source: AdFreak

Why It’s Hot

In the world on data informed, targeted, smart communications it looks like brand stunts are still alive and well! This is also an interesting use of technology (GPS, aerospace) to make a splash and make a gimmick into something truly interesting.

Beer on tap: New app summons Bud Light to your door

AB InBev is waging war on the beer run with a new app that lets drinkers have Bud Light delivered to their doors.

The Bud Light Button is only available to drinkers in Washington, D.C., and promises beer within one hour of ordering.

AB InBev has partnered with a third-party beer delivery service Klink to use independent offices to deliver up to 100 cases of beer. The app uses credit-card details for payment and, presumably, to ensure the buyer is over 21 years old.

Along with beer delivery, AB InBev is looking to inspire ‘YOLO’ moments with extra ‘Up for Whatever’ experiences. The idea is to throw surprise parties for customers picked at random, to match with the brand’s tagline: “The perfect beer for whatever happens”.

 Why It’s Hot:

“Whatever, whenever” seems to be a trendy campaign for beer lately, with Heineken operating under a similar messaging strategy.

In the age of Uber and Seamless (plus alcohol delivery services spouting up left and right), it makes sense that a brand would want to be front and center of the “get it now” Millennial need. However, I’m sure there are other services that will deliver a variety of beverages for a party — why would someone want just Bug Light? I guess we will see!


Budweiser: Drunk Drivers Kill Puppy Love

For Global Be(er) Responsible Day, Budweiser launched a video that doesn’t promote drinking, but rather being safe if you do.

Why It’s Hot

The video not only tugs at everyone’s heartstrings, but gets a great point across.  Don’t drink and drive.  I personally thought this was one of the best drinking and driving ads I’ve ever seen- something about including a puppy that loses it’s best friend just kills me inside.  Hopefully for people that normal ads don’t resonate with, maybe this will.


Raise your hand if you’ve been told to never put your drink down at a party.

The pd.id, or personal drink ID now detects if there are drugs in your drink. “Here’s how it works: Stick the pocket-sized gizmo into your drink, and it will scan for color, conductivity and temperature. It then takes that information and compares it to a database of drinks it knows by connecting to an app on your phone.” (Huffington Post, Gradoni)

If the pd.id doesn’t detect any drugs in the drink, a small light on the device flashes green. If the device does in fact detect a common date-rape drug like Ambien or Rohyponal it will flash red.

The article highlights how in 2005 the U.S. Department of Justice found 4 percent of sexual assault victims had been drugged. Wilson, the creator of pd.id calls this device a “warning system.”o-PDID-570

Why its Hot:

Unfortunately sexual assault is a terrible crime that happens all too often. There are countless stories that involve drinking and date rape drugs. The pd.ID detector, although it cannot put an end to sexual assault, is a great device that allows people to drink at ease and not have to worry about what’s in their drink.