The magic of spirits: Decoding the heady mixology of Australian alco-bev ads that connect

Irene Joshy
By Irene Joshy | 30 March 2023
Irene Joshy

Irene Joshy – Head of Creative, Kantar Australia

The world of alcoholic beverages is currently filled with discovery of flavours, zeros, fusions, new and bold narratives, and more. The category is not only bringing delight to Aussie doorsteps, pubs, bars and ‘bottlos’, it is an economic and industry growth driver valued at US$ 29.9 billion and expected to grow annually by 5.36% (CAGR 2023-2027)[1]. Kantar BrandZ data reveals success in this category lies in being ‘different’ – the extent to which a brand is seen to offer something that others do not and leads the way for others to follow.

Its difference that makes the difference

‘Different’ brands are hard to substitute, which gives them an edge. But to drive difference, brands must focus on creating not just good, but great advertising, backed by a clear positioning. For example, in the recent Kantar BrandZ 2023 Most Valuable Australian Brands, ‘the beer for up here’ Great Northern has grown to be the best-selling beer brand in the country, establishing itself as a challenger with a focus on physical and mental availability and a strong creative.

To satisfy my curiosity, I cross-matched our Kantar Australia alco-bev database with assessment of key creatives through LINK AI on Kantar’s Marketplace platform which fast-tests ads through artificial intelligence. The results validate the power of being ‘different’ in the sea of sameness of beer and wine advertising.

  • Three-quarters of the ads are enjoyable and make people feel positive emotions.
  • Australians smile with and at the characters and often express surprise (as identified through facial coding, the tried and validated neuroscience tool to decode emotions).
  • Only 50 per cent of the ads were persuasive in selling their proposition.
  • And even fewer (27 per cent) were actively building a strong long-term equity.
  • Unsurprisingly, it was the 50 per cent of the ads that were persuasive that also drove difference.

New Kantar and WARC evidence proves that creative and effective ads generate more than four times as much profit; and while there’s a strong relationship between ROMI profits and short-term sales, longer-term Demand Power Contribution (based on the ad’s ability to drive meaningfulness, difference and saliency for the brand) shows an even stronger relationship with ROMI profit. The category must not only drive persuasion but also build long-term equity. While ‘formulas’ that help marketers get advertising right abound, no sooner does one get propagated than a brilliant creative comes out and negates it. This article is not about providing formulas, rather learning from what is happening and providing illuminating perspectives to inspire.

Actions powered by clear intent and ideas drive difference
Some creatives that stand out for difference reflect a conscious intent to build relevance through what they believe sets them apart, authentically. They do this by:

  1. Being Brave – characterised by brand narratives that have pushed out of their comfort zone to drive meaning and relevance with consumers by leveraging the sweet spot between cultural and brand insights. These ads elevate the conversation around the brand and connect it seamlessly to moments in our lives. For example, in wine, inclusion in tone portrayals coupled with questioning the fundamentals (Wolf Blass Why Settle?) or challenging the notions of are the fundamentals of ‘fine’. And in beer, being brave could be adopting new styles of storytelling that humanise your brand’s origin and identity to say ‘Ordinary be damned’. Being brave has paid off by driving up difference, making them stand out and ultimately triggering desirability.  
  1. Being Present – can manifest as a brand reminding you of its role in your life or moving into key moments. Owning a moment drives association and consumption. Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel stumps (pun intended) the cricket moment with the same flair. The ‘beer from up here’ owns key moments cuing strong pairing options in their recent campaign TGN Campfire. Being present ensures that the creative is persuasive, builds associations and creates memory arcs linked to different moods and moments. 
  1. Being Pleasurable – as brands experiment and explore new territories of taste, experience and flavours, pleasure will probably get more crowded. But for now, brands are finding simple and clever ways to communicate the promise of pleasure. James Squire Ginger Beer uses visual and music to land a simple message – codes of refreshment, joy and energy make the creative stand out and deliver not only on difference and persuasion, but also contributing to the equity of the brand.

Animojis, graphics and vibrant retro feels are all trending and when they come together to launch a fruity Pale Ale, it can be an interesting prospect driving difference and making the creative enjoyable (Little Creatures Pacific Ale). Even wine can keep it simple and clear with Jacobs Creek Grenache Shiraz or Yellow Tail Afternoon Bliss proving varietals can have a space of their own driving enjoyment and being persuasive.

  1. Being Playful – who says brand creative cannot be silly and evoke fun? Forty per cent of Aussie advertising tends to use humour (more than the global average). Playfulness makes the brand come closer to the consumer, drives relevance, builds brand love and lends it meaning. However, ‘playful’ as a tactic is not enough. It needs to be ownable. The Coopers Roll demonstrates smart use of kinaesthetic association and transfers itself into rolling objects making all of them part of its identity of being easy, smooth and green! The creative successfully lands the idea and delivers superior enjoyment and meaning to stand out.

Musicals never go out of fashion and therefore, the long and short of it is still very enjoyable - Balter Beer for all. The product on the bar at the end is a good touch executed differently across different edits – makes it authentic, less staged and memorable. It is no wonder that the creative is high on enjoyment, triggers brand love and delivers joyful smiles. But music is not just for the ‘hoppies’, wine can also create lilting tunes. Yellow Tail’s Hello employs uplifting music to build the brand asset with the support of sight, sound and the colour. It creates a mood-association that elevates the wine experience.   

The key to being unmissable is to strive to stand apart

‘Different’ is not about being disruptive and/or rebellious in the category. It can just be ‘different’ relative to competition. Being different means being bold. And it’s simple: be brave and change the outlook to the category or bring in a new perspective; be present and stay salient by creating or reminding them of your moments of relevance in their lives and repertoire; be pleasurable by leveraging your product-led uniqueness and own it to drive desirability or just be playful and spread the cheer and fun. And, when executed to reflect the DNA of the brand in the most powerful throw of your voice, formulas fall on the wayside and the brand soars to new highs of success.  

[1] Statista Market Forecast, 2023

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