Diageo plans Facebook push

20 September 2011

LONDON: Diageo, the spirits group, has formed a major advertising tie-up with Facebook, the social network, as part of an increasingly comprehensive relationship between the two companies.

Under the terms of the deal, Diageo, which owns brands like Johnnie Walker, Guinness and Smirnoff, has pledged to spend more than $10m on Facebook advertising, the Financial Times reported.

In exchange, it will be among the first companies able to use new tools and features, and is set to receive consultancy services from Facebook, in a bid to ensure ads are "social by design".

Diageo began using Facebook for advertising and promotional purposes over a year ago, and data from Nielsen, the research firm, revealed some campaigns boosted in-store sales by 20%.

"We've now said, how can we ramp this up and make it something completely innovative that sets us apart from our competitors," Kathy Parker, Diageo's SVP, global marketing and innovation, said.

"Facebook are working with us to make sure that we are not only fan collecting but that they are actively engaged and driving advocacy for our brands. We are looking for increases in customer engagement and increases in sales and share."

Andy Fennell, Diageo's CMO, will also sit on Facebook's "client council", which already includes Nick Brien, CEO of McCann Worldgroup, and Wendy Clark, Coca-Cola's SVP, integrated marketing.

In the last year, Facebook has run several "boot camps" at Diageo's US headquarters, featuring 950 marketers from across the globe. In this period, the number of "fans" for Diageo brands has grown from 3.5m to over 12m.

"This is probably the fastest-changing face within the digital sphere right now, so being able to hear from those that are leading that charge is an invaluable opportunity," Kristin Ganong, Diageo North America's VP, digital strategy and engagement, said.

Facebook works with 97 of the 100 biggest advertisers, and offers "SWAT teams" of marketing, research and engineering staff for large clients like Procter & Gamble, Wal-Mart and American Express.

"We can't do it for everyone - we are a small company," Carolyn Everson, Facebook's VP, global marketing solutions, said. "When I see a client that shows they can really think differently about their business, I marshal my resources and give them a team of our best thinkers in the areas they need."

Data sourced from Financial Times/AdAge; additional contents by Warc staff