Digital Drunkenness is the Risk When Marketing Spirits on Social Media


Oh the outcry with recent revelations that certain megastars have soaked their social media feeds with booze infused posts promoting spirits brands. Given the fact that up to 25% of their audiences are said to be underage, it’s no wonder the authorities are in an uproar.

If the platform does not afford your celebrity influencers or ambassadors a way to segregate audience, then it may be a good idea to leverage their reach in other ways.

The battle lines are pretty clear as it pertains to marketing. On the one hand, your brand wants to appear authentic and transparent in the life of the paid celeb. You don’t want it looking staged or like an ad. In a perfect world, the celeb would generate posts that make use of your product look natural. Unfortunately, when posts land on the phones of underage viewers regulators don’t like it.

It’s pretty clear why influencer marketing for spirits, wine and beer brands is a smart move. Appropriate age fans of the influencer love the association and their willingness to be swayed by the perceived use or real joy of use by the influencer can play a significant role in the growth of a brand. However, the strategy has to include age appropriate exposure. Anything else is a risk to your brand. So why is this blinding flash of the obvious so difficult to accomplish? 

Social media doesn’t age discriminate. It’s nearly impossible to do effective spirits, wine and beer promotion without hitting the underage market. I personally struggle with this on a regulatory side given the thousands of billboards across the country showcasing spirits, wine and beer every few miles. Those ads influence underage drinking, just like social media. There has been some regulation passed around “out of home” advertising but the industry has formulated free speech arguments that serve to protect their right to advertise. 

So what’s a brand to do? My suggestion is to move in this direction.

Step One: Assess the celebrity influencer’s social media accounts. Utilize tools currently available to facilitate the segregation of profiles based on preferences, checkins and data made available by the influencer’s audience. 

Step Two: Cross reference these high value profiles with the current social media followings of the brand in question if they happen to have critical mass of any size…i.e. 50,000 to a 1,000,000 plus followers. 

Step Three: Survey those followers identified in Step One with very simple single response questions with an incentive of some type associated with their response. 

Step Four: Identify the key on-premise accounts or retail accounts you are targeting and clue them into your upcoming campaign. 

Step Five: Leverage legal ways to provide experiences, coupons, and moments to these potential consumers. 

If you task the right agency using the right tools your brand can work a far more exclusive branding campaign with an influencer that would be proud to be steering her tribe to your brand in partnership with a network of key on-premise and retail accounts. 

Shared Spirits provides tech to make this entirely possible. Imagine a campaign where the celeb is in partnership with your brand. The steps shared above have been taken and the portion of the audience that is age appropriate has been identified. In the Shared Spirits technology solution, the celeb actually gets to share drinks with age appropriate influencers in his/her audience. Those special recipients have to redeem those drinks in the key accounts targeted for redemption. They are subsequently marketed to for retail purchase of the brand afterwards. An entirely voluntary incentivized stream of data is garnered and gamified. 

Everyone wins and regulators no longer have a bone to pic with the celeb or the brand. 

If this kind of technical solution to marketing with celebs sounds interesting to you, reach out to Sherman Mohr and the Shared Spirits team.