Perspectives, Trends & News

Tell me you're advertising alcohol, without telling me you're advertising alcohol

on Tue Sep 09 2021
  • Market Insights

With the ever-changing regulatory environment, marketers for alcohol brands are facing a new challenge. Social media marketing has become an important channel for reaching consumers and influencing brand perception.

However, many social platforms restrict alcohol advertising or ban it altogether, depending on your target audience. This can make it hard for brands to reach their customers effectively.

To get the most out of your social media marketing strategy, you need to understand how each platform works and how they're regulated by law. You also need to know what makes a compelling post that will drive sales incentives for your business without risking breaking any laws or alienating customers with inappropriate content. For inspiration, you might look to other great Australian alcohol campaigns.


Choosing alcohol brands is influenced by social media

Social media has a significant role in influencing purchasing decisions when it comes to alcoholic beverages. Almost half of consumers are now influenced by what they see on social media when choosing their next drink, with 46% of people surveyed admitting to using their smartphone in a restaurant and 44% turning to their phone while enjoying a drink in a bar.

It's clear that brands need to be where their customers are, and marketing strategies promoting products to people already in restaurants and bars can be highly effective.


Facebook and Instagram alcohol marketing policies

If you think that you can circumvent legislation surrounding the marketing and promotion of alcohol by advertising on social media, think again. Facebook's alcohol policy states: "Ads that promote or reference alcohol must comply with all applicable local laws, required or established industry codes, guidelines, licenses, and approvals, and include age and country targeting criteria consistent with Facebook's targeting requirements and applicable local laws".

Instagram has similar policies, and there have been recent examples where alcohol companies have been banned from advertising for breaching the rules by making misleading claims about the nutritional value of their products.

 These are just the policies for advertising in Australia; they change all over the world. With many alcohol labels marketing to a global population, it is vital to understand the different regulations for advertising on social media channels in other countries.


Promoting alcohol on social media can be expensive

Facebook ads are expensive, which is not a great sales incentive for alcohol brands that can't afford to waste money on ineffective ads that don't drive purchases. As a result, the alcohol industry faces the highest CPC rates on the platform at 20 cents per click, so creativity and a clear understanding of your target audience are essential to driving that cost down.

Fortunately, that has been a massive strength of the alcohol industry, with successful and memorable marketing campaigns including:


  • The Hahn Premium Light Spa Bomb, which won the Outstanding Funny TV Commercial award at the 2003 Australian Comedy Awards.
  • Simple slogans like the "Five Cougars Thanks" advertising campaign, which saw a man change his order completely when fronted with an attractive woman wearing a Cougar Bourbon tank top.
  • Carlton Draught's Big Ad included an enormous production that broke the fourth wall by stating, "this ad better sell some bloody beer". 

We know how hard it is to promote your product in today's digital world, but we also know how powerful Facebook advertising can be when done correctly, so try to break free of basic conventions and get topical and creative with your campaigns.


The use of influencers

Modern consumers are savvy about advertising being shown to them, and the majority will not respond to hard advertising.

This impact is twofold because social media algorithms work on providing the user with the best experience possible. If they are not going to engage with your hard-selling tactics, social media platforms are not going to do you any favours either.

The way around is this is to be more subtle about your marketing efforts, avoiding a confronting sales pitch and positioning alcohol brands in ways that make people want to know more about them. A great way of achieving this is through the use of social media influencers.

Influencers who have large followings on Instagram without any association with the brand itself offer turnkey access to advertorial content which can be either subtle or overt. These influencers can help you build awareness of your product in a way that is not only legal but also authentic and organic since users often don't necessarily view the content as them being advertised to.

This is is also where there is a grey area on social media. While nothing enshrined in policy prevents an influencer from posing with an alcoholic product in the shot, their audience needs to be considered. If they are popular with people under the age of 18, this is a questionable tactic ethically and can lead to bans from the social media platform.


Offer value to your consumers

Many companies are spending too much money on social media ads and getting too little return for it. They don't know how to use their resources properly or what kind of content works best on which platforms. Also, many people struggle with finding the right balance between organic posts and paid ads.

One alcohol brand that has performed well during the COVID-19 pandemic is wine label Jacobs Creek, which launched an advertising campaign that provided basic instructions on how a consumer could become a wine connoisseur while in lockdown.

Another successful campaign was run by Jameson Irish Whiskey, operating on a similar principle. The brand used a series of puns to engage its audience and provide value by tapping into New Year's Resolution culture. Their simple ad led off with the words, "New Year, New-ish You?" and offered followers the chance to become a "cocktail master" with their Jameson kit.

There are many different ways to promote alcohol brands (television ads, radio spots, billboards, etc), but all of these options come with a hefty price tag. But backed by alcohol marketing expertise, a generous nip of creativity, and a large splash of engagement with your target audience, running custom promotional campaigns on social media can be a great place to succeed with organic, low-cost marketing strategies.

Need some guidance to get started? Talk to an alcohol promotions expert today.