Monday, September 21, 2009

Booze in advertising

Maybe it's the Mad Men effect, i.e., main characters having a shot of this or that during the day from prominently displayed bars in their offices. Or, perhaps it's a sign of the times and the adage that liquor consumption goes up during down economic times.

Whatever it may be, booze advertising is making a comeback by targeting males and attacking those brands considered more feminine.

Ketel One advertised last night on Mad Men by showing a group of young males slinging back straight vodka while an attractive young lady looks on. The voice-over said, "there was a time when men didn't drink their vodka from delicately-painted perfume bottles...there was a time when men were men."

The brand 1800 Tequila enlisted Michael Imperioli, best known for his turn in The Sopranos, to take on category leader Patron. In one TV spot, Imperioli says "These days, it's all about the velvet ropes and posturing. I don't know about you, but when I drink it, I really like to kick back and be myself." He then places his feet on the table in front of him, sending a bottle of Patron flying to the floor.

So, why this shift in strategy? Why dial up the testosterone level of the advertising? According to Advertising Age, it's probably these "man laws" for spirits marketers:

- Consumers are going out less and staying in more. Advertisers want to position themselves with the times versus showcasing bar and club-hopping.

- Masculinity is comforting during unstable times.

- Amid a recession caused, in part, by greed, brands want to be seen as selfless and workmanlike--not flashy.

- Challenger brands see opportunity. The boom times which occurred earlier in the decade were the impetus for launching pricier brands like Grey Goose and Patron. Brands now see an opportunity to portray those premium brands as irrelevant during a tight economy.

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