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Booze brands back digital

News, 18 June 2015

NEW YORK: Major alcohol companies, including Heineken and Pernod Ricard, are boosting their digital budgets as they look to exploit the opportunities offered by social media targeting and, increasingly, newer techniques such as proximity marketing and augmented reality.

In part this is down to their greater confidence in the ability of platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to target the right age group, so ensuring they comply with strict regulations about marketing to underage consumers. And those same targeting features are also proving effective.

"The ad products themselves that Facebook and others have put forward help our industry in terms of compliance," Andre Marciano, director of media and integrated communication at Pernod Ricard, told AdWeek.

He added that over the past few years the company has been increasing its digital budget at a rate of more than 50% annually, as it backs brands like Absolut vodka, Jameson whiskey and Malibu rum.

Elsewhere, one quarter of the budget for Heineken's latest campaign has been allocated to digital. Part of that will go to making a four-part documentary series, including 30- and 60-second online video ads, about one man's project to turn the beeping noises of turnstiles in New York subway stations into a piece of music that passers-by can listen to.

"The basic goal for digital is that we want to scale local," explained Quinn Kilbury, senior brand director at Heineken, as he outlined a plan to target a total of 13 cities over the summer but with a particular focus on three which account for around one third of the brand's US sales: New York, Miami and Los Angeles.

And while the music project is currently limited to New York, Heineken is aiming to do something similar in other locations. "Our aspirations are to do lots of projects and things at the same time and to amplify those, digitally," said Kilbury.

AdWeek also noted the growing interest of alcohol brands in location marketing techniques, reporting the findings of one survey suggesting the use of in-store beacons has lifted purchase intent for alcohol and liquor brands by 16 times.

The co-founder of digital agency Edge Collective, meanwhile, expects to double his alcohol business this year, as alcohol brands show interest in areas such as proximity marketing, virtual reality and augmented reality.

Data sourced from AdWeek; additional content by Warc staff