This is a brand uploaded photo taken from the Miller Lite Facebook page, and this is also a great example of the social marketing which brands are engaging in online. With the advent of sites like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, brands are able to connect with internet visitors by using multimedia such as pictures, videos and games, but they also have an unprecedented opportunity to spark a 2-way interaction with fans of the brand such as the girls pictured here. Brands are also able to use fans as brand ambassadors thus providing social proof to draw in more fans, and this is all part of the viral nature of the web which we will see in more detail later.
To begin with, back in the latter half of 2010, CAMY conducted a scan of the activities of a few top alcohol brands on historically popular platforms such as their proprietary websites and MySpace as well as newer channels such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr and mobile phones. What we found was that brands were no longer doing much on MySpace and were shifting their attention away from brand websites towards the newer social networking channels such as Facebook and YouTube. In addition, we found a stunning amount of user-generated content where users were both propagating brand-generated content as well as generating their own content in support of various alcohol brands. We also found widely varying age restrictions on alcohol brand-produced content and documented millions of visitors for alcohol brand content without any age restrictions. In this presentation, we will show you what brands are doing online, where youth are exposed, and propose some possible methods of reducing this exposure.
The Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign is another example of brands using traditional media to drive traffic to brand content on social media. This campaign was tremendously successful as Dos Equis utilized TV spots, magazine ads, and physical advertising in concert to spur interest in the brand and drive traffic online. As a result of this campaign, Dos Equis became the first beer brand to reach 1 million fans “liking” its page on Facebook. We’ll see what this means later. “Our goal was to provide an interactive environment for the brand to engage with our loyal enthusiasts, and provide them an opportunity to share their own passion for the brand with others,” continued Smailes.http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20110131006996/en/Interesting-Man-World-Dos-Equis-Beer-Brand
In addition to brands using traditional media to drive traffic online, brands are increasingly devoting more of their budgets to online advertising. Southern Comfort, for example, has announced that they will be discontinuing television and magazine advertising in favor of online properties such as Facebook and Hulu. According to AdAge, this strategy allows SoCo to advertise on network programs that the brand would’ve been forbidden from touching on TV. According to Lena DerOhannessian, the brand’s U.S. marketing director, this strategy also allows the brand to focus on the youngest legal-drinking-age consumers. A comment on the Advertising Age article reads, “Kudos to SoCo for not only tasting great with lime but for leading the way in what some would call a drastic, albeit necessary, shift. As a 20-year-old college student, I cannot agree more with their targeting and subsequent media alignment. I am on the computer (and those sites which they chose to use) probably 4 or 5 hours a day, compared to maybe 30 minutes or an hour watching TV. It will be interesting to see how their online efforts translate into offline sales and awareness.”But brands are starting to get more aggressive. For instance, Beam Global Spirits & Wine plans to spend up to 35% of its media budget on digital, up from 6% just two years ago, said Andrea Javor, senior manager for digital and media. (http://adage.com/article/news/alcohol-ads-greater-scrutiny-digital-age/149213/)(southern comfort article - http://adage.com/article?article_id=138202)
As could have been guessed from the heavy integration of content pushing visitors to Facebook on its brand website, Sarah Shearman of Marketing Magazine reported that Bacardi plans to shift up to 90% of its digital spend to Facebook as it no longer deems dotcom sites relevant. Later, we will see why Facebook holds such great promise for alcohol brands. In a nutshell, Facebook was designed around interaction between people, and alcohol brands are able to utilize this infrastructure to almost become people themselves and interact with Facebook visitors in an unprecedented and extremely brand-friendly manner.http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international-business/bacardi-rethinks-drinks-brands-online-strategy/articleshow/7368930.cmshttp://www.marketingmagazine.co.uk/News/MostRead/1051058/Bacardi-rethinks-drinks-brands-online-strategy/http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=471699612601&set=a.468576697601.248887.66157977601
Digital advertising holds great promise for alcohol brands as the youngest legal-drinking-age audience is most likely to be online. However, the issue is teens and young adults below the legal-drinking-age also comprise the heaviest internet users.
In addition to encouraging people to visit Bacardi content on Facebook, the Bacardi website also drives visitors to Bacardi content on other social media sites, specifically Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr. We will discuss these social networks later, but to briefly summarize, Twitter allows short form communication between brands and individuals and is the 7th most trafficked website in the US according to Alexa. YouTube is a popular video sharing site which is owned by Google and is the 4th most trafficked site in the US. Flickr is a photo sharing site which is owned by Yahoo and is the 23rd most trafficked site in the US.http://www.alexa.com/topsites/countries/US
Bacardi has the most U.S. Facebook pages of any alcohol brand on Facebook with 7 different pages with a sum total of over 700,000 fans. In addition to its main page, Bacardi has Facebook pages for Bacardi Mojito, Bacardi Silver, Bacardi Torched Cherry, Bacardi Dragon Berry, Bacardi Limon, and Bacardi Flavors.
Similar to Bacardi, other alcohol brands are also recognizing the opportunities available on Facebook and are using their websites to push visitors there. As seen on the top left, the Coors Light home page has three links to brand content on Facebook. Pictured in January 2011, the sole purpose of the Bud Light home page was to encourage visitors to “Guess the Plots on Facebook.” Like Bacardi, Heineken also advertises the multiple pages it has on Facebook on its website. Similar to Bud Light’s home page, the majority of the Captain Morgan home page is also devoted to pushing fans to Facebook.
To begin with, alcohol brands do not need to create behavioral changes in order to push people to social media. As can be seen from the number of people using and the amount of time being spent on social media, people across the world, particularly in the United States, are already spending quite a bit of time on sites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Globally, 313 million unique visitors spent an average of 6 hours on social networking sites in March 2010. In the United States, 127 million people spent an average of 6 hours on Facebook alone in June 2010. Since many people are already aware of and using social media, it is a simpler job for alcohol brands to connect with these people utilizing these platforms.
In addition to avoiding the need to create behavioral changes, social networking sites are particularly attractive to alcohol brands because, as we saw with Southern Comfort shifting their media budget online to target the 21 to 29 demographic, alcohol brands are once again able to reach their target audience effectively through these channels with teens and young adults being heavily represented in social networks according to Pew Research numbers from 2009.
Facebook is currently the most popular social media site in the US and the world. Of Facebook’s 662 million global users, the United States leads the way with 150.2 million users and Indonesia comes in a distant second with 35.8 million. Facebook was built as a medium for people to communicate with each other and achieved success by taking offline interaction and establishing a similar way for people to connect online. Due to its success, Facebook more recently has emerged as a powerful advertising medium where brands can take advantage of the various tools available on Facebook to communicate directly with fans. The main elements of Facebook are the Newsfeed and Profile. The Facebook News Feed, pictured on the top right, is the first page you see when you log in, and this page notifies you of all the recent activity of your friends as well as brands that you have chosen to like in reverse chronological order. For example, if your friend just updated his/her status, this update would be shown here along with room for people to add comments. If another friend has just uploaded a photo album, this album would also be shown here allowing people to easily browse the pictures. The Facebook Profile contains various sections which display different information about a person. The Wall is often the default section which shows recent activity and provides a forum for you to interact with your friends with recent comments from your friends being shown in reverse chronological order. The Info section contains whatever information you’ve chosen to add to your Profile. Commonly shared information includes name, date of birth, college and/or occupation, favorite movies, favorite books, interests, hobbies, and more. Other sections of your Profile include the Photos section which allows people to browse your photo albums and the Friends section which provides a list of the people you have chosen to be friends with on Facebook. Individuals on Facebook are also able to create Pages, Groups, Applications, and Events. Brand advertisers on Facebook have a different set of capabilities. Instead of having a profile, brand advertisers create a Page for the brand which becomes a hub for brand activity. On this brand page, brands are able to embed applications such as games, advertise promotions and events, upload photos, upload videos, create polls, and more. With these tools, brands are able to engage and interact with users, and through these interactions, brands are able to further spread a brand-friendly message because of the viral nature of social media as well as drive purchase intent, always the ultimate goal. We will soon see how alcohol brands are using these various tools to connect with users. First, it is important to note that Facebook has advertising guidelines which apply to alcohol companies, a few of which are listed here. The guidelines specifically state that alcohol brands must follow all industry codes, make sure to only target individuals 21 years or older in the US, and ensure that content does not appeal to anyone younger than the permissible targeted age group. http://www.facebook.com/ad_guidelines.php
This is where the DISCUS and Beer Institute codes come into play in order to prevent the under-21 population from disproportionately coming across and accessing alcohol brand advertising. As can be seen above, the DISCUS and Beer Institute codes apply to all paid and unpaid placements. The DISCUS code further specifies that this includes advertising on third-party websites, video advertisements, audio mentions, internet banners, pop-ups, sponsorships, and even user-generated content and blogs. So since the codes apply to everything, we went ahead and performed a scan of all online alcohol brand advertising.
Access of alcohol brand content to under 21 individuals is of particular concern on Facebook as 23.9% of Facebook’s 149 million users in the United States are between 13 and 20 years old. Even though Facebook does not allow children under the age of 13 to create Facebook profiles due to the Child Online Protection Act, nearly a quarter of Facebook’s users are below the legal drinking age. As seen from pictures like these uploaded to alcohol brand Facebook pages, it is very possible that this under-age population is accessing alcohol brand content and even becoming brand ambassadors. Source: Advertise on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/ads/create/)
One issue with ensuring that alcohol ads and alcohol brand content is only targeted at individuals 21 and older is that it is very easy to sign up with a false age or change your age on Facebook. As we saw earlier, alcohol brand display advertising driving visitors to social media is often visible to people of all ages, thus kids are being made aware of alcohol content on social media sites. Although Facebook guidelines prohibit allowing individuals under 21 to access alcohol brand content, this video shows that it takes only a few clicks of the mouse and less than 10 seconds to change your age, thus enabling access to all alcohol brand content. We start at the profile of Ethan Johnson, a fictitious person for whom we created a Facebook account to determine the scope of alcohol brand marketing on Facebook as well as the accessibility of alcohol content to individuals under the legal drinking age. To change our age, we simply have to click Edit Profile, choose a different date of birth, and click Save. All in all, it takes a few clicks of the mouse and less than 10 seconds to change something which ostensibly should not change over the course of a lifetime.
As mentioned previously, Facebook does not allow visitors below the age of 13 to create Facebook profiles. However, according to the New York Times, this is not stopping millions of under 13 individuals from lying about their age to join Facebook. Some are even being encouraged or helped by their parents to fudge their age in order to join online social networking services. If millions of children are able to lie about their age just to join Facebook, how can we be certain millions of kids are not lying about their age to access alcohol brand content?http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/12/technology/internet/12underage.html?_r=3&pagewanted=2&hphttp://www.facebook.com/policy.php
In an attempt to determine the interest in fake IDs of the 16 to 20 population in Lawrence, Kansas, members of the New Tradition Coalition of Lawrence, which combats alcohol abuse and underage drinking, set up a Facebook ad, shown on the top right, targeting youth who might be looking for a fake ID. Predictably, over five thousand youth between the ages of 16 and 20 clicked on the ad, once again demonstrating youth willingness to obfuscate their age. Another study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin published in the American Journal of Men’s Health found alcohol references on 85.33% of male undergraduate Facebook profiles and measured an average of 8.5 alcohol references per profile. More than 68% of the profiles studied belonged to students who were under the legal drinking age. These results serve as an indicator of youth interest in alcohol content on Facebook. But instead of getting a chance to obtain a fake ID that could be used to try to buy booze at Lawrence liquor stores and bars, people who clicked on the ad were directed to a website: the New Tradition Coalition of Lawrence, which combats alcohol abuse and underage drinking. Coalition members said interest in the Facebook ad clearly illustrates the demand for fake IDs and the prevalence of underage drinking in Lawrence, particularly among Kansas University students.“ That bothered me because that many kids actually clicked on it because they were thinking they were going to get a fake ID,” said Jen Jordan, director of prevention for DCCCA. “We know that underage drinking is an issue in Lawrence and at KU and other colleges. We’re just trying to address it.”http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2011/feb/26/no-faking-lawrence-police-cracking-down-bogus-ids/
In addition to the obvious concerns of under-age youth lying about their age on Facebook and showing an interest in alcohol-related activities, Facebook also presents a serious concern in terms of youth privacy. The internet is exploring uncharted territory in the fields of personalization and ad targeting, and Facebook is one of the companies leading the way in this movement. As we briefly discussed in a prior slide, internet advertising is progressing towards behavioral ad targeting, and the fact is internet marketers have been collecting our personal information for years, but never before have they had access to the kind of information which people make available on their Facebook profiles. In a paper published by the Association for Computing Machinery, researchers Balachander Krishnamurthy of AT&T Labs and Craig E. Wills of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute found that Facebook is consistently leaking personally identifying information to 3rd party companies. In a paper published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that information commonly made available on Facebook profiles can be used to predict your Social Security number, particularly “if you were born after 1988 in a state with a small population.” Another study by Alan Mislove of Northeastern University found that even if make your Facebook profile private, “researchers can infer plenty of personal information about you from any of your Facebook friends who don’t keep their friends lists private.” Facebook profiles and the information transmitted by Facebook are a marketing goldmine. Children who have joined Facebook, without a doubt, are being exposed and will suffer the consequences for years to come in terms of unwanted advances by internet marketers as well as whoever else gains access to the information unwittingly relayed.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United Stateshttp://news.cnet.com/8301-13880_3-20047703-68.html?tag=TOCmoreStories.0http://web.cs.wpi.edu/~cew/papers/wosn09.pdfhttp://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/07/02/0904891106.full.pdf+htmlhttp://www.mpi-sws.org/~gummadi/papers/inferring_profiles.pdf
Here are examples of a few more alcohol brands encouraging users to like them on Facebook. To put it lightly, brand advertisers on Facebook are enamored with both the intimate connection that liking opens between the brand and fan as well as the information which it provides, and they are putting forth every effort to gather as many Likes and resulting fans as possible. As seen on the top left, Jim Beam is offering an exclusive first look at the new TV commercial for Red Stag by Jim Beam in exchange for liking the brand. Bacardi says “Like our page to meet the Bacardi Dancers!” Miller Lite is offering a promotion where fans have to like the brand to qualify, and Heineken asks fans to click the “Like” button in order to enter an application on their page.
Many alcohol brands are using similar techniques to amass fans on Facebook, and these techniques are working. As ofApril of this year, 10 top alcohol brands on Facebook had accumulated 8.3 million fans, more than the populations of 39 US states. These brands now have direct access to millions of fan newsfeeds and profiles and have amassed an incredible amount of information. In addition, brands have opened up direct communication channels between brands and fans, and now we will take a look at how brands are using these channels to interact and create value.
As it is for users, the Wall is also the interaction hub for brands on Facebook. Here we see the Facebook Wall for Captain Morgan USA, a brand which has over 600,000 fans. On the right, we have a couple of Facebook Ads, including an ad for Patron Tequila and another ad above for Sweet Bordeaux US. Previously, we saw a couple of Facebook Ads out of context; this is an example of alcohol ads being shown on Facebook while browsing. About 2 hours before this screenshot was taken, Captain Morgan USA released a post saying “Need some new tunes. What’s good?” which was broadcast to the Newsfeeds of the brand’s 600,000 fans. Since then, 119 people have “liked” the post, and 394 people have commented, presumably suggesting a song for the Captain’s listening pleasure. This interaction closely resembles one between a group of friends, and it easy to lose sight of the fact that it was initiated by an alcohol brand, not a person. Through these types of interactions, brand advertisers are able to gain increasing mind share on the part of fans and establish stronger ties. If this were a clothing company, this connection would not be so troubling as the worst possible reasonable outcome would be a lighter wallet at the end of a shopping spree. However, this is not a clothing company, this is an alcohol manufacturer and distributor, and increasing interaction between the brand and fans, some possibly under-age, could have much more dire consequences.
This is an example of one such troubling conversation between the alcopop beverage Joose and its fans which occurred in December of last year, screenshots of which were taken in early April. Joose asks “Yesterday, we asked about your first time.. with JOOSE. Now we want to hear about the morning after..JOOSE. Walk of shame anyone? Tell us a good morning after story with JOOSE” Right off the bat, this question condones promiscuity and irresponsible consumption of alcohol and asks fans to post their related stories. The first fan post from John Ware discusses bringing home two empty cans of Joose and blacking out at some point in the night. Joose responds with “LOL What did you do?!” thus accepting and glorifying such behavior. Adam Rood adds that drinking Joose caused him to wake up naked on the couch, after which he proceeded to drink more Joose.
Joose responds “And… how did half a Joose get you naked on couch?!” with the implication that half a Joose isn’t very much, and more is required to become intoxicated. Predictably, Adam responds with the clarification that “the said ‘half Joose’ wasn’t Joose #1 of the night…” An individual named JentlemanJoose claims that “Neon green pours out of me the next morning.” Joose responds “is that why your tongue is greenish blue in your profile picture?” once again normalizing and glorifying the fact that this individual was vomiting, most likely due to excessive consumption. Tyler Jamison Duncan adds another vomiting and blacking out anecdote which states “midnight vomit all over the wall and not knowing about it till the next day…”
Joose responds describing a previous similar incident, “LOL. I once had someone tell me they threw up underneath their bed and didn’t know about it until months later!” Tyler then proceeds to describe a night where he drank an entire bottle of vodka and the ensuing consequences, and Aaron Shoemaker ends the conversation with an endorsement for drinking Joose for breakfast. Encouragement of responsible drinking habits is nowhere to be found in this conversation, rather it is much the opposite, encouraging and glorifying over-consumption.
The posts from the Captain Morgan USA and Joose Brand Walls are two examples of direct interaction between alcohol brands and Facebook users. This chart shows the number of posts and resulting interactions that occurred for 10 brands, selected on the basis of youth appeal, in January of this year. Corona was the least active with 3 brand posts during the month which generated 2,191 likes and 438 comments. Captain Morgan USA was the most active with 51 posts which generated 23,677 likes and 9,010 comments. These 10 brands posted a total of 158 times in January which generated a total of 98,305 likes and 25,952 comments. These numbers constitute an unprecedented marketing success as Facebook costs nothing to use, however, brands are able to spark thousands of interactions and create significant engagement with users. Impressions?
Virtrue, a leading social media management company, estimates the annual value of a Facebook fan to be $3.60. Based on this, alcohol brands on Facebook are generating the following values from their fan bases, a total of $30 million dollars. With Facebook, except for the Ad component, being a free tool to use, the return on investment in this medium has been tremendous. This ROI is echoed on other social media sites, and is one of the main reasons behind brands shifting their advertising budgets online.
In addition to direct interaction, brands are able to engage fans in many other ways on Facebook such as allowing visitors to browse through brand-uploaded photo albums. Here we see a page with a few photo albums that Captain Morgan USA has uploaded to Facebook.
On the Captain Morgan USA Brand Wall, fans are able to post comments, photos, links and videos. As we saw previously, comments get posted directly onto the brand wall. If a fan uploads a photo, this is shown on the brand wall and it also placed in the Fan Photos section of the Captain Morgan USA Facebook page which we see here. According to the Facebook blog(http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=206178097130), Facebook is the largest photo-sharing site in the world with over 2.5 billion photos uploaded each month. Brands on Facebook leverage the advanced photo-sharing capabilities by allowing fans to upload brand-oriented photos to brand Facebook pages. Not only are these photos displayed to everyone browsing fan photos on the brand Facebook page, but they are also broadcast to the friends of the person uploading the photo, thus simultaneously providing social proof and widening the brand’s reach.
Another form of media which brands are able to share on Facebook is brand-produced video. Here we see the brand-uploaded video section of the Captain Morgan USA Facebook page.
As mentioned previously, fans are also able to upload videos to brand Facebook pages. Here we see the fan video section of the Captain Morgan USA Facebook page where fans have uploaded 4 high definition videos and 5 videos total.
Sharing photos, and to a lesser extent, videos is an important activity on Facebook. Some would even say that photos are the lifeblood of the site with the viral nature of sharing photos and tagging others in photos having played a large part in Facebook’s initial and continuing success. In keeping with this theme, alcohol brands have uploaded a tremendous number of alcohol-oriented photos and videos to their brand pages, a few examples of which we have seen throughout the presentation. Fans have also uploaded a staggering amount of content to brand Facebook pages, and this is indicative of the success alcohol brand advertisers have had in terms of connecting with fans and converting them to brand ambassadors. During our scan of brand Facebook pages, we found many examples of youth-oriented content pervading both brand and fan-uploaded photos, a few of which we will take a look at now.
Beer Institute codes also prohibit the use of youth-oriented content in marketing materials, including user-generated content. Despite these restrictions in the Codes as well as re-iteration of these restrictions in Facebook Advertising Guidelines, youth-oriented content is another motif in brand and fan-uploaded photos. This is a photo uploaded by a fan to the Bud Light Lime Facebook page.
We could spend hours looking at all the sexually charged photos which alcohol brands and fans of alcohol brands have uploaded to brand Facebook pages. This is another photo uploaded by a fan to the Bud Light Lime Facebook page.
Once again, all individuals in marketing materials must be 25 years or older and appear to be 21 or older. This photo was uploaded by Miller Lite to its Facebook page.
This is another photo uploaded by Miller Lite to its Facebook page.
Earlier, I mentioned the topic of brand ambassadors. Here is a perfect example of social media allowing fans to be brand ambassadors and advertise the brand. These girls, who may or may not be over 21, dressed up as Coors Light bottles, had a picture taken of themselves, and uploaded this picture to the Coors Light Facebook page. The friends of each girl tagged will see this picture in their Newsfeed as well as anyone browsing pictures on the Coors Light Facebook page. For many, this will serve as powerful reinforcement of the brand’s message that consuming alcohol is a favorable activity.
In a recent presentation on the effectiveness of marketing on Facebook, it was demonstrated that seeing your friends supporting a brand, specifically Budweiser in this example, led to an increase in several brand advertising metrics such as brand recall, message awareness, and purchase intent. As we’ve seen on the Captain Morgan and Joose Facebook Pages, alcohol brands are able to use social media to showcase thousands, and in some cases millions, of people who have adopted a brand preference and use this knowledge to connect with visitors who have not yet made such a conscious or unconscious decision.Source: http://www.slideshare.net/360digitalinfluence/facebook-state-of-the-union
In other words, alcohol brands are utilizing the capabilities of social media sites such as Facebook to demonstrate social proof for their brands, thus leading to success in the form of increased followings and ultimately product sales. Visible interaction between followers and brands, fan-uploaded videos, and fan-uploaded photos such as the one shown here can all serve as peer advertising and social proof.http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=157781374251012&set=o.6708101101User-recommended brand-produced contentBranded imagery
Alcohol brands are able to create Ads, Pages, Applications, and Events to market their products on Facebook. Per Facebook Guidelines, alcohol brand content, whether it is in the form of a Ad, Page, Application or Event, is restricted to individuals over 21 years of age in the US. Users, on the other hand, are also able to create Pages, Applications, and Events and they are able to create groups as well. User-generated content, in the form of pages, applications, groups, and events, does not have any age restrictions and is visible to all users, above and below 21. Here we see a few Bud Light-related Facebook pages, presumably created by users, and thus accessible to our under-21 profile of Ethan Johnson. These include groups like “I guarantee more kisses begin with Bud Light, not Kay,” “Team Bud Light,” and “bud light commercials.”
Here we see the Facebook Page itself for Team Bud Light which contains some information about the brand as well as a link to the Budweiser website. Once again, this is completely accessible to all users of Facebook.
Here we see the Facebook Wall on the Team Bud Light Page where the creators of the page are interacting with fans. Based on the comments, it appears as though this page was created by Bud Light resellers hoping to generate additional sales through this marketing method.
Here we see user-generated Groups centered around Bud Light, all accessible to under 21 individuals. Although much has changed since then, researchers at the Marin Institute published a paper in The Journal of Global Drug Policy and Practice in 2009 which stated “When we entered the term ‘alcohol’ into the Facebook search engine, more than 58,000 Groups were displayed. More than 5,000 total Groups were associated with the top-selling beer brands, with more than 5,000 total Groups associated with the top-selling spirits brands. Many other Groups were associated with more general alcohol activities, such as the 342 Groups listed with the name ‘Binge Drinkers.’”
And here we see user-generated Events centered around Bud Light, once again, all accessible to under 21 individuals. With regard to Events, researchers at the Marin Institute stated “Alcohol-related Facebook Events were commonplace, with a total of more than 2,200 Events associated with the five best-selling beer brands…and an additional total of more than 2,200 events associated with the five best-selling spirits brands...” many of which are accessible to the under 21 user. Since the Marin Institute study, alcohol brand-related content and fans of alcohol brands have proliferated on Facebook and have become a far greater danger.
Having seen how alcohol brands are reaching millions of people and generating millions of dollars by marketing on Facebook, now is a good opportunity to take a look at how alcohol brands are reaching millions of people on another social media site, YouTube. YouTube is a video sharing site which allows users and brands to upload video clips, up to 15 minutes each, free of charge. Visitors to YouTube are able to access videos in two ways, they can either go directly to videos by searching or they can see the videos which a specific user has uploaded by visiting that user’s channel, which is essentially the equivalent of a user profile. Here are a few examples of alcohol brand channels on YouTube, specifically the channels for Captain Morgan, Smirnoff, Malibu, and Bud Light. According to the YouTube Community Guidelines, “YouTube staff review flagged videos 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate our Community Guidelines. When they do, we remove them. Sometimes a video doesn't violate our Community Guidelines, but may not be appropriate for everyone. These videos are age-restricted. When a video has been age-restricted, a warning screen is displayed and only users who are 18 or older can watch it.” Interestingly, a few alcohol brand channels are age-restricted so that only users 18 and older can access these channels, however many are not age-restricted. http://www.youtube.com/t/community_guidelines
Here are the number of videos a few alcohol brands have uploaded to YouTube as well as the accompanying channel views and upload views. Since users can watch videos in one of two ways, through the uploader’s channel or on the video page itself, YouTube tracks both channel views and upload views in order to allow uploaders to see where their views are coming from. For example, Bacardi Superior has more channel views than upload views, meaning that it has done a good job of marketing it’s YouTube channel and this has been more successful than allowing YouTube visitors to find its videos through search results. Bud Light, on the other hand, has significantly more upload views than channel views, indicating that much of the traffic to Bud Light videos occurs through visitors searching for the videos, and Bud Light presumably is not marketing its YouTube channel at all.
However, uploading videos to brand channels is not the only way alcohol brands can gain exposure on YouTube. Rather, another powerful method to take advantage of the inherent viral capabilities of YouTube is demonstrated by the Smirnoff Tea Partay video shown above. This campaign is best introduced by a quote from Kevin Roddy, the creative director behind the campaign which was released by BBH New York. In an interview with Yahoo! Advertising Blog, Kevin states, “If you want it to go viral, it can’t look, feel or act like an ad. People will pass it along if they feel it’s more entertaining than selling. People aren’t going to forward advertising for you, so it can’t play by the same rules.” This video was uploaded to YouTube by a user called “iamigor” and has so far accumulated 5.8 million views. There is no age restrictions for watching this video despite it being produced and released by an ad agency commissioned by Smirnoff, and there is no telling how many of the 5.8 million views have come from individuals under 21 years old. Later in the interview, Yahoo! Advertising Blog asks “Has it become the industry standard for companies to place their TV ads on YouTube, Yahoo! Video and other video sites?” to which Kevin responds “Yes, almost everyone does. Why? Because it’s free. And if you get 5,000 people to see it, they saw it, and they chose to see it, as opposed to my forcing it upon you in a commercial break. There’s no reason not to.” Kevin also says another benefit of online video is that “…you’re paying for production, but you’re not necessarily spending media dollars.” In a 2010, Forbes named Smirnoff Tea Partay the 14th Best-Ever Social Media Campaign. As seen outlined in red to the right, due to the popularity of the campaign, Smirnoff commissioned another ad agency, JWT, to create a sequel to Tea Partay called Green Tea Partay, but this sequel was not nearly as successful as the original, generating around 350,000 views for the 2 highlighted clips. Forbes #14 Best-Ever Social Media Campaign14. Smirnoff: "Tea Par-tay” The Diageo-owned vodka brand launched this viral rap parody music video featuring preppy white guys promoting Smirnoff's Raw Tea drink in 2006. The Web video, which directed viewers to the drink's Web site, was supplemented with billboard and radio ads.http://www.forbes.com/2010/08/17/facebook-old-spice-farmville-pepsi-forbes-viral-marketing-cmo-network-social-media_slide_14.htmlhttp://www.yadvertisingblog.com/blog/2010/09/09/smirnoff%E2%80%99s-tea-partay-and-the-birth-of-viral-marketing-video/
Another example of alcohol brands taking advantage of the viral marketing capabilities of YouTube is “A Vodka Movie” which is a three part series advertising Absolut Vodka. Although uploading videos to YouTube is free, brands are rewarded for releasing quality content as this is more likely to go viral and generate large numbers of views. The description for Part 1 of a Vodka Movie states “Zach Galifianakis, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim were commissioned by Absolut Vodka to make a film for their website. They were told they could do anything they wanted as long as they mentioned the product. Edited by Ben Berman.” This video was uploaded to YouTube by username “ericwareheim,” who is also one of the actors in the clip. Once again, all three videos are accessible to all visitors, regardless of age. These videos have accumulated a total of 3.8 million views on YouTube alone. They have also been uploaded to other video sites across the web with no telling of how many total views and views from under-age individuals have been accumulated. Absolut Lemon Drop – unsuccessful viral marketing campaign
Despite having generated a minimum of 6 million and 4 million views with their respective campaigns, neither Smirnoff Raw Tea nor Absolut Vodka can come close to matching the success of another alcohol brand, Bud Light, in the online video space. Bud Light has taken the light to non-existent restrictions placed on alcohol content by YouTube and run with the possibilities, producing a series of clips which it has advertised as too racy for TV. These videos have become immensely popular, and they have drawn attention from advertising industry award committees as well as media outlets such as Time Magazine. On the top left, we see the video for Bud Light’s Swear which depicts office works having to pay a quarter every time they curse. The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded “Swear Jar,” produced by advertising agency DDB Chicago, the Emmy for Outstanding Commercial. According to an Anheuser-Busch press release, the commercial “has been viewed more than 12 million times on the Internet and has never aired on television…’Swear Jar’ has already received several industry accolades, among them a National Gold Award at the 2008 ADDY® Awards, a Silver Lion at the 55th Cannes International Advertising Festival and a Silver Clio at the 2008 Clio Awards.” Not satisfied with profanity and nudity, Bud Light has continued to push the envelope as can be seen from the video on the bottom left. Once again, this is another video which takes advantage of YouTube’s light content restrictions and according to the article in Time magazine, reaches for comedy from the appropriateness hinterlands in order to reel in young men. http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1902420,00.html#ixzz1J9GUJa97http://www.anheuser-busch.com/press/SwearJar091508.html
Once Bud Light releases content such as theSwear Jar commercial, based on the quality, it quickly gets shared around the web. Here is an example of the commercial being shared on Funny Commercials Blog where the description reads “Found on www.bud.tv…” If the content sharers decide to embed the video from YouTube, and the original video has no age restrictions, then the ensuing embed on the blog will also have no age restrictions. In the case of Bud Light, none of the commercials we took a look at had any age restrictions, and thus when shared around the web, no age restrictions were found.
Here are some more examples of these videos being shared, specifically by users on Facebook. Social media sites such as YouTube and Facebook facilitate content sharing, thus making it easier for well-produced videos to generate millions of views.
These are the respective view counts for 8 commercials which Bud Light has advertised as too racy for TV on YouTube alone. For example, the Bud Light Swear Jar video has been viewed 2.1 million times specifically on the YouTube website, and as mentioned earlier, it has been viewed more than 12 million times overall across the web, according to Anheuser Busch’s press release. 15.6 million views is a minimum estimate for the number of views which these 8 videos have gathered while pushing the boundaries for appropriateness. None of these videos have any restrictions based on age, and they are accessible to all viewers so once again there is no telling how many of these views came from under-21 individuals, particularly given the youthful orientation of much of the content involved. In addition, another point to note is that, despite being produced by advertising agencies affiliated with the brand, Bud Light in this case, these videos have been uploaded to YouTube by the usernames shown. There is no way of telling if these usernames are brand-affiliated or not, but one would guess that in many cases they are.
In addition to Facebook and YouTube, another online marketing medium alcohol brands are using to generate millions of free impressions is Twitter. Twitter is an mass communication medium which allows users to release tweets, messages of 140 characters or less which are then broadcast to each person who has chosen to follow the tweet creator. For example, sixteen thousand people are followers of Smirnoff on Twitter, thus each time Smirnoff releases a Tweet, this is immediately broadcast to its sixteen thousand followers. Each person on Twitter has the ability to both follow others and create tweets, thus creating an interconnected web of users. In addition, users are able to view recent tweets from people they are following in many ways, including on their mobile phones, which in some cases allows for an instant connection between tweet creators and followers. Unlike Facebook which requires users to enter an age of 21 or older to view alcohol brand-generated content and even YouTube which asks users to log in and be over 18 years of age to view a small percentage of alcohol brand-generated content, Twitter does not ask for users age at any point and has no age restrictions on viewing alcohol brand profiles. All users have access to alcohol brand tweets.
These are examples of tweets from Bacardi and Skyy Vodka encouraging viewers to purchase brand products. One thing to note here is the Retweet link below the tweet itself. If a viewer decides to Retweet a particular Tweet, then this Tweet becomes disseminated to all of the viewer’s followers, thus leading to an amplification effect where the Tweet is able to travel beyond the group of followers for the initial creator. This is similar to the amplification effect on Facebook where interactions with a brand are displayed on user profiles thus advertising the brand to the friends of that user.
These are examples of tweets from HPNOTIQ and Absolut Vodka driving viewers to interact with the brand on other social media sites, specifically Facebook and Flickr. The HPNOTIQ tweet actually happens to be a retweet of another user’s tweet as indicated by the RT. As mentioned earlier, Twitter is a 2-way communication medium where alcohol brands have followers and also follower others. In this case, a person HPNOTIQ is presumably following released this tweet, which HPNOTIQ subsequently re-tweeted thus increasing the tweets reach.
These are the number of tweets, number of people the brand is following, number of brand followers, and estimated direct impressions for a few alcohol brands on Twitter. Direct impressions is specified because this does not take into account viewers re-tweeting brand communications. Rather, this number assumes linear follower growth from 0 to the current following and equal distribution of tweets to followers across the lifespan of the account. Most of these accounts are less than 2 years old in which time these brands have generated nearly 30 million direct impressions, once again, not accounting for amplification.
Twitter is also a great way to get a real-time view of the conversation occurring around a topic or specific term. A search for Bud Light on May 3rd revealed 50 tweets mentioning Bud Light being released in a 40 minute time span which reached over 12,000 people. These are a few examples of Bud Light-related tweets taken at a earlier time point, showing people reacting to Bud Light advertisements and promotions. The two tweets on top display user reactions to Bud Light commercials. Another tweet links to one of the banned Bud Light commercials we discussed earlier. The tweet from Brother Chad interprets one particular Bud Light promotion as being in favor of drunk driving. The two tweets on the bottom appear to be from bars promoting Bud Light specials.
While Facebook is the largest photo-sharing site on the planet, with over 15 billion photos uploaded as of April 2009, Flickr, another popular social media site, has more than 5 billion photos of its own according to CNN. The online blog Social Photo Talk comments, “Flickr is more of a single-purpose social network than Facebook, but that single purpose is photo sharing, and it does it very well.” Flickr is a very popular photo-sharing site which several alcohol brands have used to upload photo albums to share with the general public as Flickr has no restrictions based on age. Here we see a few pictures from a photo album shared by Smirnoff in December of last year. Smirnoff directs visitors to its Flickr albums through links on its website, Facebook Page, YouTube channel, and Twitter profile.http://articles.cnn.com/2010-09-20/tech/flickr.5.billion_1_photo-sharing-site-flickr-facebook?_s=PM:TECHhttp://www.socialphototalk.com/facebook-vs-flickr-sharing/
As we saw on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, the inter-connected nature of the web allows content to quickly spread beyond the initial point of contact between a brand and an individual. On Facebook, interactions between a person and a brand are disseminated to all of that person’s friends. YouTube videos are taken and quickly shared across the web. Twitter allows individuals to re-tweet messages, also allowing for rapid expansion of brand-generated messages. Here we see a similar effect on Flickr where a search for Bud Light yields 42,888 image results. As can be seen, many of these images are examples of branded advertising such as Bud Light neon signs, Bud Light billboards, and Bud Light trucks, and social media sites such as Flickr allow individuals to take these branded images and share them with all of their friends. In addition, these images have also now become publicly available, further spreading the brand-oriented message.
Earlier we saw Bud Light videos on YouTube being shared on blogs. The fact is, any kind of content can be shared on blogs, including brand-oriented pictures, videos, stories and more. A search for Bud Light on Google Blog Search yields 646,000 results indicating that Bud Light has been mentioned in the blogosphere 646,000 times. Multiply this by number of viewers for each of these references, and you get a tremendous impact.
This is an example of a blog calledDrinkBudLight.com which, from a brief inspection, appears to have been created by a fan. On top, this fan has embedded the search results for Bud Light Girls on Flickr which allows viewers to quickly flip through pictures of Bud Light Girls from Flickr. On the right, we have links to further Bud Light-related content, and down below, which we cannot see, the blog also includes a link to the Bud Light website. Should they so choose, brands are also able to create blogs supporting their products on sites such as WordPress, Blogger, and Tumblr, and a few brands like DonQ Rum, which hosts a blog called LadyDate on Tumblr, have done just this.http://blog.donq.com/
Although Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, and blogs form an important part of the social media world, there remain hundreds of sites which we have not addressed. This slide describes a DonQ Rum social media campaign which occurs across the nine different social media sites listed above. The web is a big place with over 200 million websites, and, as we mentioned earlier, advertising is an important revenue source for many of these sites. In fact, according to its financial statements, the world’s biggest web company, Google, drew 97% of its revenue from advertising in 2010 for a total of 28.2 billion dollars. Alcohol brands have their choice of these 200 million websites with regard to which ones they want to advertise on, and it’s simply a matter of assembling a portfolio of websites which best meets their needs. http://royal.pingdom.com/2010/01/22/internet-2009-in-numbers/http://investor.google.com/financial/tables.html
Mobile marketing is an area of concern with respect to alcohol brand advertising as Pew Research Center reported that 83% of teens own a cell phone by age 17. In another Pew Research Center study, 69% of teens agreed with the statement “When I am bored, I use my cell phone to entertain myself” as opposed to 38% of adults. (http://www.frankwbaker.com/mediause.htm)http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Mobile-Access-2010/Part-2/Internet-use-and-data-applications-using-mobile-phones.aspxhttp://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Cell-Phones-and-American-Adults.asp
Here is an example of a game created by Coors Light specifically for iPhones called Coors Light 1st and Cold which is available through the iTunes store. As seen outlined in red on the left, the iTunes store specifies that “You must be at least 17 years old to download this app” due to “Frequent/Intense Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References.” This disclaimer is put in place by the iTunes store, not the brand, and strangely specifies that users must be at least 17 years old to download this application. The description for the Coors Light application, which is created by the brand, contains no age disclaimer indicating that interested parties must be of a certain age to download. Once this game is downloaded to the iPhone, the application does require users to enter their age before entering the game. However, users may enter as many different ages as they like in order to access the game. The game itself involves playing a modified version of football.
The final application we will review is the Heineken Know The Signs Breathalyzer iPhone app. As we saw with the Coors Light applications, the iTunes store specifies that “You must be at least 17 years old to download this application” due to “Frequent/Intense Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References” among other reasons. The description for the breathalyzer application contains no age disclaimer. The description reads “we all know someone who sometimes has one too many to drink on a night out. Whether they transform into a Fighter, an Exhibitionist, a Groper, a Flirt, a Sleeper, a Crier or a Stumbler, you can be sure they’re going to cause you problems. Now if your friend starts to show the signs of turning into one of these characters, you can use the Heineken Breathalyzer before things get out of hand. All you need to do is pre-set it to one of the seven characters before handing the breathalyzer over to your friend. Ask them to blow into the phone’s microphone and watch their face as they fail dramatically.” The picture below of the application itself shows a male of questionable age as The Fighter. The target demographic and intended use cases of this application speak for themselves.