While social media has the ability to boost brands’ success around the world, opaque posts by ‘influencers’ have fallen foul of regulators. Here, SB announces the Social Media Hero from our Brand Champions report.
There’s no doubt that social media plays a vital role in digital marketing, allowing spirits brands to reach millions of consumers worldwide. Having a strong social presence empowers alcohol brands to stand out from an enormous crowd of category competitors, who are all striving for the attention of the drinking-age population.
In 2012, to create a safer alcohol industry, the CEOs of 11 leading alcohol companies, including Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Bacardi, Beam Suntory and Brown-Forman, banded together to create the not-for-profit International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD). In September 2018 the IARD committed to a partnership with Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube to deliver “robust responsible marketing standards” across the social media sites.
The alliance will work with the platforms to see what changes can be made to reduce the chances of underage consumers viewing alcohol advertising, and also explore ways people can have more control over whether they see such content – or opt out of viewing these campaigns altogether if they wish.
New research from the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs claims that alcohol advertisements on social media sites such as Facebook can increase young adults’ desire to drink if the ads contain pro-drinking comments from users. The report noted that social media users are also more likely to ‘share’ or ‘like’ an advert with pro-drinking comments. Researchers suggested the industry “needs to do more to improve the voluntary self-regulatory system that governs its advertising, possibly by limiting or banning comments on social media advertising”.
For the alcohol industry, the digital sphere can present a unique set of challenges. While social media networks have improved their age-verification practices in recent years, there is another form of advertising that is often hard to spot: ‘influencer’ marketing.
Brands are increasingly using their marketing budgets to promote their products through ‘influencers’, but this form of advertising has come under fire in the last few years.
In December 2018, a complaint was filed against Diageo alleging more than 1,700 alcohol ads for Cîroc vodka were posted on Instagram by ‘influencers’ who failed to openly disclose their connection to the brand.
The investigation by truth-in-advertising.org (TINA.org) claimed that posts from 50 Cîroc social media ‘influencers’ – including Cîroc’s ‘strategic alliance’ partner Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs and rapper Bow Wow – violated Federal Trade Commission (FTC) law.
It came just eight months after another TINA.org investigation had called out hip-hop producer DJ Khaled for failing to mark alcohol-sponsored social media promotons as ads. DJ Khaled, who promoted a number of booze brands, including Cîroc, overhauled his social media accounts after receiving a written warning.
More recently, research from Australian health promotion foundation VicHealth in April found that a third of Australia’s top Instagram ‘influencers’ who have promoted alcohol brands also failed to disclose their commercial partnerships.
While it can often put brands in hot water, ‘influencer’ marketing can also be hugely effective in reaching new drinkers.
It’s one strategy that has certainly helped Pernod Ricard’s Malibu rum to take the second spot on our Social Media Heroes list. This year, the brand is “ramping up” its ‘influencer’ programme for the global roll-out of its Malibu Games campaign, which will feature 32 ‘influencers’ from nine countries, including comedian and model Hannah Stocking and Dominican singer Natti Natasha.
In our assessment of the social presence of the world’s million-case spirits brands, we evaluated brands’ performances on what we believe to be the three most crucial social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
While Snapchat is certainly a major social player, with huge advertising potential for spirits brands, it would be difficult to evaluate the performance of spirits on content that can disappear in seconds or on a daily basis. As part of the judging criteria, we looked at: the number of likes, shares, comments, retweets and favourites; and the frequency and creativity of posts; with a focus on global accounts.
Brands on our list were praised for their vibrant campaigns, celeb-filled content, eye-catching cocktail shots, timely posts around cultural events and initiatives that carry important societal themes.
Click through the following pages to discover the top 10 spirits brands on social media.
The list has been compiled as part of The Spirits Business‘s Brand Champions report, which is available to view here. As such, it includes only brands that sell more than one million nine-litre cases annually.
These figures are based on research conducted by The Spirits Business in May 2019, and so the majority of brands included have most likely grown their followers and fans since.