Nearly two years after gaining U.S. distribution rights for Strongbow hard cider, Heineken USA is putting the brand on TV in hopes of fueling growth in the newly crowded category.
The national TV campaign, by Droga5, is called "Cider at its Bestest," and will be supported by "significant" spending, said Charles van Es, the importer's senior director for global brands.
"The cider category is absolutely on fire over the last 18 months," he said. But "we've got some significant competition," he added, citing Boston Beer Co.'s Angry Orchard and new brands from MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch InBev. "We definitely don't want to be left behind. And we feel like we have a great story to tell and television is a fantastic medium to get a lot of people to see your message."
The message the brand is selling is that its cider is perfect for what Mr. van Es described as "higher energy occasions," such as drinking by sunset as the night is getting started.
The campaign "explores the absurd notions of making the best even more desirable. In this case it meant enjoying a Strongbow with your horse that only runs in slow motion. That's the bestest," Hannes Ciatti, a Droga5 creative director, said in a statement.
The "Slow Motion Horse" spot (above) begins airing Wednesday, followed by an extended version that will run online. Another ad, called "Three Sunsets," will run later in fall.
Total cider sales grew 84% to $327 million in the 52 weeks ending Sept. 7, according to IRI, which excludes bar sales. Angry Orchard had the most sales at $185 million. Strongbow ranked fifth, with $12.5 million, according to IRI.