Playboy’s Sales Pitch to This Whiskey Brand Included a Shot of Instagram Ads

A twist on retargeting and native advertising

If you visit between now and St. Patrick's Day (March 17), you'll see ads for Tullamore D.E.W., the blended Irish whiskey. Then, if you jump onto Instagram, you'll be retargeted with a 30-second video commercial from the same marketer.


Such retargeting isn't at all new, but how it's being orchestrated seems to be. When Playboy's sales reps inked Tullamore D.E.W. for the brand's second straight St. Patty's Day campaign on the lifestyle magazine's properties, they included an Instagram extension for the first time. After the deal was in place, they bought Instagram inventory for the whiskey's video that's appearing under the Playboy banner. (See image to the right.)

So, the ads are simultaneously for the publisher and marketer client, though the promos clearly feature Tullamore D.E.W. more prominently. It's an intriguing work-around that allows Playboy to offer marketers more reach and a richer portfolio.

"We are taking advantage of technology to automate the extension of our campaigns onto multiple platforms," said Phillip Morelock, Playboy's chief digital officer. "We have a pretty rich ad-tech stack here."

Indeed, Morelock and his team didn't employ a media-buying agency for the Instagram ads thanks to the in-house system its built up in recent years. In fact, they began offering brands the same kind of campaign extensions on Facebook in 2015. (Tullamore D.E.W.'s spot is also currently appearing via Playboy's ads on Facebook.)

And you can look for more social ad integration from Playboy in the months ahead, Morelock suggested. "We are reaching our audience on those platforms after they've seen the campaign on ours," he said. 

It's not only an interesting twist on retargeting but native advertising as well. At the same time, it's completely different from Facebook Instant Articles, which let publishers sell ads for Facebook-only content while splitting the money with the social giant.

Playboy's method is probably just fine with Facebook, Inc., which owns Facebook and Instagram—it's getting the same money it would if the brand marketers purchased the ads. In other words, Playboy's not going to hear from Facebook like NBC did last May when it ran video ads for Subway restaurants on the social platform without paying anything for them. 

Meanwhile, Tullamore D.E.W. is repurposing a 2013 spot created by Opperman Weiss and Duotone on Instagram via Playboy. Here's the creative on YouTube: