The goal is to inject some originality in the category to stand out as new seltzer brands appear in stores on an almost daily basis. Topo Chico wants to break through “the sea of the bro-y seltzer sameness,” says Alan Bremerkamp, director of hard seltzers at Molson Coors. He describes the campaign as feeding into the quiet, self-confidence and “cool aura” of the brand’s target audience.
Droga5 Associate Creative Director Bernardo Gonzalez in a statement described the ads as capturing the “larger-than-life aura of both real-life legends and our hard seltzer.” They include “a dash of Latin American realismo mágico (or magical realism) to visually express joy and paint a world of heightened reality with big colors and big emotion,” he adds.
The Texan vibe is not coincidental. The Topo Chico brand, which started as a non-alcoholic mineral water made in Mexico, owes its U.S. rise to the state, with the Rio Grande Valley serving as an early entry point. Coca-Cola acquired it in 2017 and the water brand surged thanks in part as result of its use as a mixer, including for drinks like “Tito’s and Topo,” which blends the sparkling water with Tito’s Vodka and is particularly popular in Texas. Coke earlier this year struck a deal with Molson Coors to manufacture, market and distribute Topo Chico Hard Seltzer.
The seltzer hit the market two months ago and Molson now sells it in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, California, New Mexico, Oregon, Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Boston, Chicago, Northern New Jersey, New York City, Seattle/Vancouver and Washington, D.C. The campaign will target those markets with digital buys that include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Hulu, YouTube, Vevo, Telemundo, Univision and Pandora.
Topo Chico Hard Seltzer got off to a sizzling start, quickly gaining 3.2% share of the hard seltzer market, according to Beer Marketer’s Insights. But it slowed some since, as has the entire seltzer market, according to the publication. Topo had a “very strong start especially in Texas,” says Beer Marketer’s president Benj Steinman. “It receded a little bit from the initial splash. The game is just getting a lot tighter, a lot more competitors.”
The segment, which has been dominated by White Claw and Truly, drew a ton of entrants in the past couple of years and seemed unstoppable. Growth reached an 80% clip at the beginning of this year, but volume was up only 14% in the four weeks ending May 8, Beer Marketer’s reported last week citing Nielsen data.
The slowdown could put more pressure on marketing departments to juice demand for a drink that used to sell itself. White Claw seems to have recognized this: The brand, owned by Mark Anthony Brands, recently debuted a new campaign that is backed with spending that is six times higher than in previous years.
Bremerkamp declined to detail how much Molson Coors is spending on the Topo Chico campaign, other than to say, “We are putting our weight behind it.” As for when, and if, the brand will go national, he says: “We are definitely keeping a really close eye on how things are performing and relay trying to get a solid understanding for what is possible in the future.”