Earlier this month, Anheuser-Busch debuted Social Club Seltzer, a new line of hard seltzers inspired by classic cocktails—and to promote it, the alcoholic beverage giant is leaning on the brand’s likely fans to create a campaign.
The company is asking designers, writers, filmmakers, producers and all-around creative hustlers to help build Social Club’s first marketing push.
The decision to reach out to the public for assistance came from the insight that the best way for a brand to create content that connects with its intended audience is to get members of that audience to create the content themselves, according to Lana Kouznetsov, vice president of Anheuser-Busch’s Beyond Beer division, which includes spiked seltzer Bon & Viv.
Kouznetsov added that in this case, Social Club Seltzer is aimed at men aged 30 and over who “know what they want, and they know what they want to see.”
The call for contributions, which are due by June 19, went out on the brand’s social channels, and comes at a time when the nation’s unemployment rate has climbed to 14.7%. The ad industry has been no exception to the economic turmoil caused by Covid-19, with several agencies announcing layoffs and furloughs.
The total number of people hired for the project depends on who applies and which ideas rise to the top, said Kouznetsov. Everyone will be paid at their fair market rate, with the opportunity to continue working on future projects, perhaps even becoming a long-term collaborator. If one person isn’t quite the right fit, Kouznetsov said she’s open to pairing them with one of the other brands she oversees.
“If I have an amazing submission that may not be perfect for Social Club, why not?” she said.
Social Club Seltzer, which debuted nationwide on May 11, comes in three flavors: Sidecar, Old Fashioned and Citrus Gimlet. Each 12 oz. can contains 150 calories and is 7% ABV.
Hard seltzers have been on a roll recently. In 2019, the U.S. ready-to-drink alcohol category that includes hard seltzer climbed to $2 billion in sales, a year-over-year increase of 219%, according to Euromonitor. Category leaders are White Claw, which controlled the majority of sales last year, followed by Truly Spiked & Sparkling and Bon & Viv.
Earlier this month, Anheuser-Busch parent company AB InBev, citing data from market research firm IRI, stated that while the hard seltzer segment grew about 300% in the first quarter of 2020, its own portfolio of hard seltzers rose nearly 600%, largely thanks to Bud Light Seltzer, which debuted in mid-January (and was the focus of Bud Light’s Super Bowl spot).
Given the growing demand, Social Club Seltzer is hoping to both join the wave and provide an alternative for people interested in something different.
“Our goal as a portfolio is to create strong brands that play in the current space, and then make bets around brands that can expand the space,” Kouznetsov said.
As for hiring potential customers to promote the brand to people like them, Kouznetsov said the strategy avoids the problem of developing creative assets in isolation that very well might miss the mark.
“If you have the opportunity to have your consumer be part of the actual creation, that’s when something really big can happen,” she said.
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