Booze Brands are Big on Mobile

Alcohol brands continue to find value in mobile, as evidenced by their increasing investment in ads and marketing initiatives through the channel.

According to data released this week by Millennial Media, 42 percent of CPG campaigns across its ad network in August were for alcoholic beverages, representing the lion’s share of activity in the category ahead of verticals, including cosmetics and hygiene and non-alcoholic drinks. While the summer season goes some way to explaining that dominance, agency execs suggest there’s more to it, and that the nature of mobile devices lends itself perfectly to the marketing of alcoholic products.

“Nightlife and beverages tend to lend themselves to engagement and awareness-based campaigns, and mobile is great for that,” Jason Newport, svp and mobile president at Carat, said at an Advertising Week event yesterday. “That’s why you’re seeing brands like Captain Morgan do some really interesting stuff,” he added.

Captain Morgan was relatively early to the mobile marketing party, allowing users to upload MMS entries to the brand’s “Ultimate Pose Off” campaign back in 2009, shortly followed by a similar Halloween-inspired mobile campaign later that year.

Carat counts Diageo among its clients, which owns a portfolio of booze brands including Captain Morgan and Smirnoff Vodka, among others. Earlier this year another one of its brands, Guinness, ran iAd campaigns both in the U.S. and in Europe, further demonstrating its willingness to invest substantial amounts in mobile media. Even after a couple of price reductions, iAds don’t come cheap.

Meanwhile Coors is another example of a brand that continues to re-up its mobile efforts. This year its Super Bowl campaign featured a mobile element, inviting consumers to snap QR codes for a chance to win cash prizes and tickets to the game. Codes appeared on product packages as well as digital and out-of-home creative.

“For Coors, mobile is where the eyeballs are. They’re seeing a huge concentration of their market on mobile, particularly Android devices, and it’s an area they’re ramping up pretty quickly now,” said Paul Gelb, vp and mobile practice lead at the brand’s digital agency, Razorfish. “Every part of its business has found a way to capitalize on the mobile opportunity, in grocery stores, bars, even stadiums,” he continued.

For alcohol brands another clear strength of the mobile channel is its strong links with social media. Mobile devices and alcoholic beverages are both inherently social, and the fact that investment firms such as Diageo allocate for building audiences on networks including Facebook and Twitter is testament to that. The approach extends to mobile also, it appears. Millennial’s research found that 78 percent of CPG campaigns in August drove clicks to social media sites.

Despite the success beverage brands are already finding in mobile, Gelb and Newport implied there’s a lot more to come as agencies and brands chase their audiences onto new devices and platforms. “Mobile continues to grow faster than we can keep up with, said Gelb. “Although most of our clients are doing it and budgets are doubling and tripling, there are still some hurdles we need to overcome.”

“Consumer behavior is outpacing both brands and agencies, and we have some catching up do to in that respect,” Newport concurred.

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