The young and the hip drink in rum brand’s messaging

Client: Sailor Jerry’s William Grant & Sons Inc.
Agency: BON and others
Objective: Leverage events to promote liquor to millennials over 21

“Our challenge was to come up with a way of interacting with existing and new audiences in an inclusive and relatable way,” says Daniel Deephouse, the brand manager at Sailor Jerry who initiated the project but is no longer with the company.

STRATEGY: Sailor Jerry, a brand of flavored blended rum inspired by tattoo artist Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins, wanted to launch an event promotion to mark the  centennial of its namesake and promote the brand among males in their 20s and 30s. The brand messaging was steeped in Americana and promoted quality, says Stephen Malbon, CEO of marketing agency The Malbon Group.

Brands must entertain young
audiences to drive engagement

Millennials, broadly defined as adults between 18 to 30 years of age, are a savvy, demanding bunch. Thus marketing efforts toward this demographic need to foster engagement through entertainment. After all, millennials as a group are generally tech-savvy, well-versed in social media, and are often indifferent to today’s deluge of marketing communications.

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“We were challenged with coming up with a very cool campaign that could deliver that brand message,” he says, “So it wasn’t just another big corporation going over the top with massive spending, but giving a good message to the people and [to] let them be a part of it.”

Malbon’s BON unit organized a series of 17 concerts at locations such as the South By Southwest music festival in Austin, Lollapalooza in Chicago, and CMJ in New York, as

well as at smaller events in cities such as Seattle, Portland, and Philadelphia, where Sailor Jerry could reach its target audience. BON outfitted a fleet of six vintage Airstream trailers as lounges at the events, which worked as mobile billboards, Malbon says. Additionally, performers used the trailers as green rooms, which created a hip vibe. Guests could have temporary tattoos applied at the trailer and post their pictures on a dedicated Facebook page.

“We met all kinds of people, from tattoo enthusiasts and bikers, to rock bands, roller girls, and barbecue kings, all the time making sure that Sailor Jerry was part of these communities,” Deephouse says.

RESULTS: The tour ended in late November and resumed in March at South by Southwest (SXSW). It will continue to the end of 2012. The 2011 results include 15.7 million media impressions and 239 pieces of PR coverage, according to BON.

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