Thursday, June 17, 2010


For a long time there was an understanding in place that hard alcohol companies would not advertise on TV. If you haven't noticed, that trend has changed quite a bit in the past 5 years or so. Today the TV airwaves are littered with ads for tequila (ish), Whiskey, Rum, you name it.

I'm sure there are plenty of people that claim they can taste the difference between Smirnoff and Absolut, but lets be mature here...booze, for the most part, tastes the same. Therefore, there is great opportunity for advertisers to be the main point of differentiation between the vast array of booze brands. A lot of companies are struggling with this.

The following is a description of an ad for hard alcohol, can you tell me which brand?

A semi crowded room, it's kind of dark, there are a lot of "attractive people", some people are dancing, some people are laughing, there are guys playing cards, some of the guys have carefully crafted scruff on their face, the girls are not dressed for church, a guy with a deep, throaty voice is reading something about having a good time or the olden days when "men were men", you find yourself wondering if parties/gatherings like this actually exist.

That's right, there are a lot of ads like this and they do a terrible job of differentiating their brand from the other brands that are doing the exact same thing.

I really have no problem with Kettle One as a brand or product (I actually think their bottle is pretty sweet) but if you replaced the Kettle One brand in this spot with Belvedere, Grey Goose, Stoli, etc. would you even notice?

Or you can replace the throaty sounding dude with some weird music...

As long as these companies are going to continue this trend of advertising on TV and taking whatever lumps that come with it from the powers that be/other groups that might get upset over hard alcohol being advertised on TV (this is a whole other topic, personally as long as they don't advertise during Blues Clues, it doesn't really bother me) they might as well do a good job.

This is an example of a brand that understands its roots and the platform it is built on. If you replaced the brand's name in this ad, it would no longer all...some of these other companies could learn a thing or two from Jameson.

Booze is all about image and once people of age can afford to look up from the shelves with the Karkovs and Admiral Nelsons of the world there lies a great opportunity to build brands that are "cool" or "retro" or "classic" or "modern" or whatever else is the differentiating trait for why someone tries or chooses one Whiskey over another. Because I think we know that for the most part a lot of this stuff tastes pretty similar, but that doesn't mean that they are perceived the same way or that they make us feel the same way (not in a literal drunk way but in an emotional I feel cool or I feel happy or I feel as if I'm balling like Jay Z while I sip on this Crystal kind of way).

People are passionate about strong brands and often times it goes well beyond the actual functionality of the product...booze is no different (just ask me if I've ever gone sailing with the Captain before...yea I capitalized it).

One love, one heart.

Eric McPherson

Twitter: @EricWMcPherson