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
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
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
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.
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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
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
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."
E.J. Schultz is the News Editor for Ad Age, overseeing breaking news and daily coverage. He also contributes reporting on the beverage, automotive and sports marketing industries. He is a former reporter for McClatchy newspapers, including the Fresno Bee, where he covered business and state government and politics.