If you understand bro speak, HuffBros Live wants you to pull up a seat in front of a digital screen near you. But, instead of crass topics, the livestreamed MillerCoors-sponsored segment on HuffPost Live is attempting to take a dive into more profound male-oriented topics.
"We wanted to have the kind of conversations that men don't feel comfortable having,” Roy Sekoff, president and co-creator of HuffPost Live, told Adweek. "It's the kind of thing that is turning its ear on bro culture, and showing a much more sensitive side, a much more thoughtful side about deeper feelings and insecurities that you bring out with your closest friends."
Case in point: The first episode, which debuted today, is a panel discussion about how to chill with your fellow dudes who have coupled off while you're the only sad Keanu around. Called "Dating When Everyone's Your Wingman," it features the opinions of Thomas Edwards, founder of The Professional Wingman, Greg Burmeister, marketing manager at COED.com, and Jozen Cummings, the New York Post dating reporter.
The idea is one part of a greater digital content deal between AOL and MillerCoors. Brad Feinberg, senior digital and media manager at the beverage company, said it jumped on the brogramming pitch because it made sense for Miller Light and Coors Light's target drinker: the legal drinking age millennial male. He noted that HuffPost Live has massive reach, with up to 111 million monthly video views that has increased 121 percent year-over-year, per Huffington Post.
"They're taking a concept that has been fairly successful for it and making it an opportunity to reach men," Feinberg said.
Altimeter media analyst Rebecca Lieb pointed out that males ages 18 to 35 have traditionally been the hardest demographic to target.
"It’s gotten harder with streaming," she said. "Many of them aren't going to have cable or satellite, ever. If you're going to get in front of these guys' faces, it's going to be digital. Let’s not talk about print because we all know where that is going."
It also affords another bonus in that it doesn't hold to the same rigid standards as TV advertising. "You can get grosser and more nauseous on digital. That would make you worried on a network. In terms of investing dollars towards production and creative, it allows you to push it as far as you can push it to meet the demands, pace and edginess of this audience," Lieb argued.
Lieb pointed that traditional advertisers might not have previously wanted to work with Vice for fear of being associated with anti-family values, but with millennials such an alluring consumer, the counterculture empire is now a sought-out brand. However, other analysts have also pointed out that Vice's brash attitude isn't as controversial as it used to seem, with other traditional digital outlets also pushing the envelope on acceptable taste.
HuffBros Live is just one aspect of MillerCoors broadening digital footprint. It also holds partnerships with publishers Complex Media and Woven Digital, as well as sites like The Chive and BroBible. Web video and mobile tend to be at the "crux" of its strategy, Johnson said.
"We're expanding [digital advertising] in 2014 as we continue to look for where guys are and the right opportunity to reach the right guy at the right time with the right message. Digital offers up that opportunity. As their behaviors are changing, we want to make sure we reach them with how they consume media," Feinberg said.
It’s not just MillerCoors trying to singing the bro hymn online. Mike’s Hard Lemonade announced in April that it was adopting a digital-only advertising strategy. Budgets are now going into digital campaigns where engagement is important, and spokespeople have become YouTube influencers, Sanjiv Gajiwala, director of marketing activation at Mike’s Hard Lemonade Co., explained.
Mike’s Hard Lemonade launched a new digital campaign on May 7 called #mikehacks, a collection of cheeky video tutorials that narrate ways to use the malt beverage during summer outings. Ideas ranged from creative to somewhat bizarre, and included a "flavor fountain" made out of a plastic kiddie pool to a personal BBQ made from a Mike's Hard Lemonade can. Gajiwala said that the brand always had that tinkering sensibility built into it, and after looking at trends on BuzzFeed and YouTube, it decided this was the best natural fit for a fresh campaign.
For Mike's Hard Lemonade's target demographic—both male and female drinking age millennials—Web ads have delivered substantially better ROIs than TV spots, Gajiwala pointed out. The increase in impact has only gone up over the past two or three years partially because digital tends to be more interactive, he hypothesized.
"When I look at what we're able to do in terms of the diversity of content and different ways that we can reach consumers on mobile, social and online videos, the opportunities can look so exciting. We really see our products come to life in a way you don’t get in the 30-second TV spot," Gajiwala said.
"Digital is much more a two-way medium because it becomes a conversation," Sekoff added.