White Claw, a brand built on social buzz, focuses on fans in first global campaign

Source: fooddive.com

Dive Brief:

  • White Claw is releasing its first global advertising campaign as it looks to preserve a lead in the increasingly crowded hard seltzer category, according to a news release. Ads will appear across TV and social media, per a spokesperson.
  • Debuting today, “Let’s White Claw” was inspired by the user-generated content that has propelled the Mark Anthony Brands-owned beverage to the top of the hard seltzer conversation and sales charts. Black-and-white ads deploy a diverse mix of content creators, capturing improvised moments of them enjoying White Claw in different settings. Agency partners include: MSLGroup, Rothco, The Times, Haworth, Republica and Epsilon.
  • A significant push into paid advertising, which White Claw has only used sparingly in the past, comes as the marketer contends with new offerings from rivals like AB InBev and Molson Coors Beverage Company. White Claw, which expanded into five new international markets in the past year, plans to move into 10 more in 2021.

Dive Insight:

White Claw helped spark the current consumer craze around hard seltzer, but its ascent was noteworthy for relying more on organic social media chatter than traditional advertising. Rolling out a heavy paid media play now speaks to how White Claw is grappling with threats on multiple fronts, as alcoholic beverage companies large and small are putting their chips behind hard seltzer as an enduring growth opportunity while mainstay categories like beer continue to flag.

“Let’s White Claw” aims to preserve the off-the-cuff qualities that turned the brand into a word-of-mouth machine on social media, while layering in a bit more professionalism. Bubbly black-and-white ads center on enthusiast creators and were shot in real locations, with a unifying goal to project a vibe of “pure, uncomplicated fun,” according to the release.

The shift in consumer outreach strategy is noteworthy given White Claw’s history. In the summer of 2019, when White Claw’s dominance first became apparent in the mainstream, reports indicated it actually pulled back on media spending amid product shortages. Instead, viral memes, videos and hashtags shared by those interested in the so-called “White Claw Lifestyle” helped enshrine the Mark Anthony Brands label at the top of the heap.

Fans’ posting about White Claw has generated more than 4 billion impressions for the brand in recent years, per the release. The company also claims it’s garnered 46 times more social media mentions than competitors. On the sales front, White Claw says it contributed over $1 billion in growth to the hard seltzer category last year — more than the next two largest-growth brands combined. Truly, which is owned by the Boston Beer Company, is the No. 2 hard seltzer brand, according to industry estimates.

If there isn’t a single rival likely to dethrone White Claw in the near future, the sheer volume of hard seltzer contenders still poses a problem. Larger companies with wider reach are concentrating more of their marketing muscle on the product category. AB InBev labels Bud Light and Michelob Ultra both promoted their hard seltzers heavily during the Super Bowl this year. Molson Coors last fall launched Coors Seltzer with a position around protecting the environment in a bid to differentiate the offering.

The global hard seltzer market is expected to experience a compound annual growth rate of 16.2% from 2020 to 2027, Grand View Research forecasts.

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