Free Rides: Booze Brands Align With Transportation Apps
Drink one too many Christmas ales? Planning to tip a few back at a Super Bowl party? Plenty of alcohol brands are offering to help pay for your ride home this winter.
In the newest twist on responsibility advertising, beer and liquor brands are increasingly partnering with transportation apps like Taxi Magic and Uber to give away discounts on rides. This being marketing, there is a small catch, however: In most cases users must engage with the brands digitally before they get deals.
MillerCoors, for instance, says it will give away $3 million worth of cab rides in Chicago, Boston and New York from Dec. 2 to Jan. 5 in a partnership with Hailo, a smartphone app that connects people to available cabs. To get a $10 discount on their rides, users must enter a code found at select bars.
Diageo's Ciroc vodka, meanwhile, has teamed up with on-demand transportation app Uber to give new users of the app $25 coupons. But users must wait until New Year's Day to begin redeeming the offer, which runs through March 1. On Jan. 1 at noon Ciroc brand spokesman Sean "Diddy" Combs will tweet a special code consumers must use to activate the deal. "Our main objective here is to use the holiday period to drive awareness with consumers to think about responsibility as they start the New Year," Diageo spokeswoman Tammy Thompson said in an email.
Other booze marketers partnering with Uber include tequila-maker Patron Spirits, which is offering $10 discounts during the holiday season to members of its Patron Social Club, an online fan site.
The 2014 Super Bowl in New York seems like a perfect match for similar free ride programs in the nation's largest media market. Anheuser-Busch InBev, an NFL sponsor, declined to discuss its plans.
The idea of promoting safe driving is not new for alcohol companies, which have a long-history of responsibility campaigns. Diageo, for instance, mandates that 20% of its TV media buy comprise responsibility-dedicated ads, including this new ad for Ketel One by WPP's Grey that a spokesman said will get a big push during the holidays.
But the emergence of transportation apps has given brands one more way to engage with consumers, while offering them something in return. Ciroc says it won't offer its Uber discount unless it gets 10,000 pledges on Facebook and Twitter from fans to never drink and drive, using the hashtag #CIROCthenewyear. Ms. Thompson said that as of Dec. 18, "we have collected thousands of pledges towards our 10,000-pledge goal."
MillerCoors in recent years has made a conscious effort to align its responsibility advertising with brands – rather than using a corporate voice -- while doing it in a "social-media appealing way," said Kim Marotta, the brewer's director of sustainability.
Heineken USA's Newcastle Brown Ale has even launched a limited edition line extension in conjunction with its partnership with the Taxi Magic app. Point-of-sale displays for the brew, called Newcastle Cabbie Black Ale, feature a promo code that new users of Taxi magic can use to get a $5 credit toward cab fare booked with the app. The program is being marketed with this digital video below by Droga5, including ad buys on Youtube.
"We wanted to get across a responsible consumption message," said Quinn Kilbury, Newcastle brand director. "But we wanted to do it in a way that was consistent with our brand's tone … and in a very entertaining fashion that also could sell some beer."