Consumers won't be seeing much of Southern Comfort in the traditional media space this year. The liquor brand has moved all of its marketing dollars into the digital space with the launch of new ads targeting tech-savvy 21-29-year-olds.
Four new Internet-only spots ask, "What is Southern Comfort?" The ads answer the question by celebrating the brand's New Orleans roots. "Celebration" and "One-of-a-kind" focus on the uniqueness and creativity associated with the Southern city, while a third centers on the brand's creator, M.W. Heron. The fourth spot highlights responsible drinking of the product.
The ads began airing on Oct. 15 on Hulu's ad selector under the "SoCo New Orleans Bouillabaisse" section. It allows viewers to choose their method of advertising -- pre-roll, mid-roll and post-roll. Spots are also running on Break.com, CBS.com, Comedy.com, Fox.com, FX.com, MyDamnChannel.com, NBC.com, Playboy.com, TheFader.com and Pitchfork.tv, as well as at Southern Comfort's Facebook fan page.
Havas' Arnold is lead agency.
Lena DerOhannessian, U.S. marketing director for Southern Comfort, said: "[The] idea of being more innovative and welcoming and co-created with consumers is what we are trying to do with our media."
Making the move to an exclusively digital strategy this fiscal year (beginning May 2009) may seem risky to some, but DerOhannessian said the brand is taking advantage of a tremendous opportunity to communicate with its customers. "There is a very flexible structure in the online space that allows us to listen to [consumers] and give them the opportunity to speak to us in regards to the brand," she said. "It's just an immeasurable benefit."
For example, SoCo previewed the campaign's upcoming spots on their Facebook page to get feedback from its 150,000 fans.
Arthur Shapiro, an alcohol industry consultant for AM Shapiro and Associates, applauded SoCo's strategy. "I think it's brilliant. . . . Digital provides access to the key target audience on a one-to-one basis. The world has changed. That's how people are communicating. That's where they are getting their information. And, that's where they're relating to brands."
Southern Comfort spent $7 million in 2008 and $500,000 between January and August 2009 on advertising, excluding online expenditures, according to Nielsen.