The result: Brand building and quick results. The marketer worked its product and ad tagline into the show "Kahlua and Conde Nast Traveler present Bring Home the Exotic" on the Oxygen network and saw a near-immediate sales bump from the move in the key pre-holiday season. Meanwhile, hundreds of tastemakers in major markets turned out for documentary screenings and private parties for "Sauza Tequila Presents Urb Next 100 Live."
LOS ANGELES -- There are a few compelling reasons why executives at spirits marketer Allied Domecq don't want to go the traditional sponsorship route
|Chris Monaco, Allied Domecq's director of entertainment marketing, says, 'It's increasingly important to us to create content and take it directly to our target audiences.'
in entertainment by tagging its brand names onto rock tours or MTV beach houses.
Stringent rules on alcohol advertising mean that any entertainment that Allied Domecq would be involved in has to be controlled in its distribution. At least 70% of the audience for such entertainment must be 21 years old, the legal drinking age, and it must carry "drink responsibly" caveats.
More of a driver, though, is the philosophy of its 3-year-old Los Angeles-based entertainment division.
"It's increasingly important to us to create content and take it directly to our target audiences," said Chris Monaco, Allied Domecq's director of entertainment marketing, who heads the Los Angeles office. "It's much safer and more beneficial for us to create opportunities rather than rely on a third party."
In other words, it's all about ownership, which makes Allied Domecq somewhat unique in the branded entertainment area. Most marketers aren't willing to take the risk to create their own entertainment vehicles, instead latching onto a pop band, Hollywood film or reality TV show to get their ad messages in front of consumers.
The strategy will help build brands in the long term, Mr. Monaco said, rather than giving them jolts of attention that may be fleeting, such as a link to a high-profile feature film.
Discussions began more than 14 months ago for a TV show that would embed Kahlua in a show about travel to far-flung destinations. Allied Domecq, recently acquired by conglomerate Pernod Ricard USA, forged a partnership with Conde Nast Traveler magazine and the Oxygen network to create a five-episode series intended to hit the sweet spot of Kahlua's target -- women age 30 and over. It launched in late October and mirrored the "everyday exotic" ad tagline of the drink. It’s Allied Domecq’s first stint at producing television.
Each episode of the show, which airs multiple times a day, follows a different couple on an exotic vacation, with editors from Conde Nast Traveler in tow. When they return home, they throw a party to share their adventures with family and friends.
The concept of the show, which came from Allied Domecq and Conde Nast Traveler executives, addressed Kahlua research that showed most people drink the coffee liqueur at parties or at home.
Lisa Hughes, vice president and publisher of Conde Nast Traveler, said advertisers are increasingly looking for integration opportunities. Her team at the magazine found readers to cast in the show, wrote the scripts and provided editors and travel content to give the series a strong backbone.
"We're always interested in partnering with our advertisers on integrated marketing programs," Ms. Hughes said. "This was a unique idea and it made sense for the brand and the magazine."
Allied Domecq surrounded the integration with direct mailers, in-store displays, nightclub and restaurant marketing, a 12-page advertorial in Conde Nast Traveler in November and four TV spots on Oxygen during each show.
Mr. Monaco wouldn't discuss specific numbers, but said that orders for Kahlua have jumped in advance of the holiday season, usually the biggest sales time for the liqueur. He also wouldn't detail the cost of producing the show, but said it was highly cost effective when compared to traditional TV spots.
The marketer took a similar approach for branded entertainment around Sauza tequila, but went after a markedly different audience. Allied Domecq partnered with music-centric lifestyle magazine Urb around its "Next 100" annual issue, which showcases emerging talent, and filmed a documentary about those DJs, neo-punk bands and hip-hop artists. They screened the documentary at invitation-only parties in New York, Los Angeles and other major markets.
The events put the film and the brand in front of hundreds of 21- to 29-year-old influencers, Mr. Monaco said, and the total for the whole program was "a fraction of what a Super Bowl ad would cost," though he wouldn't give specifics.
Allied Domecq has done brand integration deals in the past without owning the entertainment outright, and has been active in product placement. The marketer was laced through the set of Spike TV's reality show "The Club" and was the drink of choice for Matthew McConaughey in Paramount Pictures' "Sahara." The marketer now prefers to control its own destiny wherever possible.
"We've learned that we don't want to rely on the perfect vehicle coming along at the perfect time," Mr. Monaco said. "We'd rather grab the reins and do it ourselves."