Most agencies let their clients develop products, then they market them. After six years helping brands launch at big retailers, Minneapolis-based commerce agency The Stable decided that it would try its hand launching its own brand, a hard seltzer called fundays, that is now available at select Target stores.
The idea came in 2019 when The Stable CEO and entrepreneur Chad Hetherington saw the potential to develop a new brand of hard seltzer—already an up-and-coming category—aimed at Gen Z and millennials.
“We identified white space in the seltzer market [through the agency’s analytics and insights team] and found that there was a real opportunity to build a brand with unique flavors aimed at Gen Z and millennials that didn’t take itself too seriously,” Hetherington told Adweek. “Given the supply chain and complexity around liquor laws and distribution, this isn’t typically a category we play in. And since we don’t have any clients in this space, we just thought it could be a really fun company-wide project to bring a brand like this to life leveraging our entire platform.”
After Hetherington and the agency’s internal brand and product development team decided to build out a brand, they discussed the idea with retail partners and secured commitments before the pandemic shut things down. In April of 2020 they had to figure out how to make a hard seltzer.
Craft spirits distillery Cardinal Spirits and Houston-based Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co. partnered with The Stable to help bring the product to life. Hetherington and his team spent the summer of 2020 taste-testing seltzer and identifying new flavors that would resonate with a younger demographic.
They settled on four Fundays seltzers flavors: Fresh Picked (infused with raspberry, lemon and blackberry), Garden Party (honeysuckle, orange, and blackberry), Yard Games (lemon, lime and pomelo), and Skinny Dip (passion fruit, guava and dragon fruit).
Hetherington said the process was rewarding, even if he doesn’t recommend it for every agency.
“We can bring brands to life creatively and have teams in place internally to execute at retail. Our end-to-end commerce platform and talent gives us a leg up over more traditional agencies. So, I would only suggest doing it if you are confident you can execute the entire thing. If not, don’t waste your money,” Hetherington said, adding that his agency was able to fully execute the brand building quickly by leveraging its creative, packaging, content, media, retail, and operations teams.
A social campaign, “Life happens on fundays,” accompanies the product, encouraging consumers to break out pink flamingo floaties and slip away to a fantasy world for a bit while sipping the seltzer.
Hetherington said that The Stable isn’t going to make a career out of building its own brands, “but it was a really fun project to work on during lockdown.”