With nearly every brand in alcohol seemingly launching a hard seltzer, it’s becoming harder to stand out. Coors is hoping to win attention by backing its entry into the hot-selling category by aligning itself with an environmental cause. Except rather than running serious ads about the planet in peril, the brand is making a humorous appeal seemingly aimed at the laziest of environmentalists: drink seltzer to save rivers.
New ads show drinkers lounging, partying and playing video games, “for the rivers.” The campaign is backed by a pledge from the Molson Coors brand to restore 500 gallons of river water for every 12-pack sold, via donations to Change the Course. The organization is part of the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, which specializes in water restoration and conservation programs. Coors says it will initially target 16 river basins in 14 states, including projects for the Colorado, Missouri, Sacramento and Chicago rivers.
The campaign comes from Activista, a socially-minded creative shop in Los Angeles run by Paco Conde and Beto Fernandez. The duo formerly worked at Anomaly, BBH and Ogilvy Brazil, where they worked on campaigns including Dove's "Real Beauty Sketches" and Burger King's "Proud Whopper." The campaign marks Activista’s first effort for Molson Coors, whose Chief Marketing Officer Michelle St. Jacques has shown a willingness to shake up the brewer’s agency roster after taking the role in early 2019.
Conde in a statement explained the rationale for the creative approach, which forgoes the heavy-handed tone of other environmentally minded marketing. “If you want to change something in the world, you can’t ask people to change their lives to provoke that change,” he said. “The most effective way to engage and inspire people is to leverage something they are already doing and pivot that action into a helping act. That’s the idea behind the Coors Seltzer Volunteer Program.”
The campaign includes digital videos and TV ads that will run during college football and entertainment programming.
Coors Seltzer is entering a hard seltzer category that is drawing new entrants on a seemingly weekly basis. White Claw and Truly are the longtime leaders, but competitors are seeking to grab a slice of what has become the hottest segment in alcohol, if not all of consumer packaged goods. Last week, Anheuser-Busch InBev announced Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer, which it touts as the “first national USDA-certified organic hard seltzer,” coming in flavors such as spicy pineapple, peach pear and cucumber lime. The brewer already offers seltzer versions of Bud Light and Natural Light.
Molson Coors’ seltzer plans include a new partnership with Coca-Cola for Topo Chico Hard Seltzer. It already sells Vizzy, a seltzer it touts as containing acerola cherry, a “superfruit” high in the antioxidant vitamin C. Coors Seltzer comes in Black Cherry, Mango, Grapefruit and Lemon Lime.
According to Molson Coors, Americans this past summer drank 87 million gallons of hard seltzer. It’s using that figure to make its pitch: “Americans are drinking an astounding amount of hard seltzer, but it’s not doing much good,” Matt Escalante, Molson Coors’ senior director of marketing, states in a press release. “With the launch of Coors Seltzer and its Volunteer Program, we’re setting out to provide a seltzer that tastes good and also gives drinkers an opportunity to do good with each and every sip.”