Booze-Delivery App 'Saucey' Unleashes Sinatra Impersonators

One for the Road: Saucey Plugs Itself as the 'Uber of Alcohol'

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Saucey and Sinatra
Saucey and Sinatra

Saucey, which calls itself Uber for alcohol, is turning to Ol` Blue Eyes to boost its booze-on-demand business.

The startup, which is trying to gain a foothold in the newly competitive alcohol-delivery sector, on Friday will run a promotion with Jack Daniel's that includes Frank Sinatra impersonators dropping off whiskey to doorfronts. The program will run in Los Angeles and San Francisco, the two cities where Saucey operates.

It's not guaranteed that Jack will always come with Frank: Saucey is working with a handful of impersonators in both cities, so some deliveries might arrive without a crooner. To qualify, buyers must use a special Sinatra ordering code, or buy one of several Sinatra packages. That includes a deal called the "Rat Pack" that comes with the Sinatra Select super-premium version of Jack Daniel's along with cigars. Mr. Sinatra, who famously referred to Jack Daniel's as the "nectar of the gods," would have turned age 99 on Friday, which is the hook for the promotion.

"From a brand perspective [it's] a completely new and interesting way to connect with customers," said Saucey CEO and founder Chris Vaughn.

The company, which launched in May, plays in the increasingly crowded booze-on-demand delivery business that also includes companies such as Drizly, Minibar and Thirstie. The startups allow users to order beer, wine and liquor on smartphones and have it delivered from local retailers. Big booze brands have begun partnering with the companies as online ordering grows in popularity. The brands are buying ads in the ordering apps, or in some cases embedding startup-supplied ordering technology within their own digital content.

'Unique opportunity'
For instance, Drizly is running a promotion with Miller Lite in which the brew has run promoted tweets during football games. The tweets link to a Miller Lite branded e-commerce site that promises "delivery in 60 minutes or less."

"We saw a unique opportunity to activate on-demand personalized experiences around beer-centric occasions -- like watching football and gathering with friends," MillerCoors Digital Marketing Manager Dilini Fernando said in a statement provided by Drizly. The promotion targeted New York, Seattle, Washington, D.C. and Boston.

Saucey has partnered with Anheuser-Busch InBev on a program that includes Bud Light ads on Facebook that direct people to the app and promises to get "Bud Light delivered to your front door fast," according to an image of an ad shared with Ad Age by Saucey.

The apps make money via ad revenue from brands, as well as by charging retailers a fee. The apps include the normal age-gating processes used by other digital alcohol marketing, which typically asks users to input birth dates. More stringent verification comes upon delivery, when drivers card buyers.

Mr. Vaughn said Saucey is different from its competitors because it employs its own delivery drivers. Other startups rely on retailers to do the delivery.

Bartender included
Saucey has run promotions that include delivering bartenders to homes along with booze. In partnership with the MeUndies brand, it sold a "sleepover package" that includes male and female pajamas delivered with booze. Soon the company will launch a promotion with Absolut that includes vodka delivery along with ingredients to make holiday cocktails. On some days the deal will include a mixologist to make the drinks.

With control of the drivers, "we have much more control over things like delivery times [and] volume," Mr. Vaughn said. "We can do things like this special with Sinatra that might drive a huge frenzy and have hundreds of people ordering in those few hours because we can just dispatch more drivers to handle the volume."

But in some states, delivery must be controlled by the retailer, according to laws. In those cases, Saucey -- which is planning to expand -- will tout its dispatch support services, Mr. Vaughn said.

One growth opportunity for the startups is the data they are collecting on buyers, including who is ordering what, when and response to what advertising. "To date these alcohol companies have had very little visibility into consumer drinking habits" Mr. Vaughn said. Previously, "all digital campaigns, or even outdoor campaigns … have never been able to be a purchasable event for an alcohol brand."

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