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Top 10 spirits brands on social media

Social media is ubiquitous in modern marketing, but how do spirits brands use their platforms effectively? Here, SB announces the Social Media Hero from our Brand Champions report.

SB presents the top 10 spirits brands on social media
SB presents the top 10 spirits brands on social media

Social media has become an increasingly important avenue for promotion in the spirits industry. It gives brands a fresh way to communicate with their consumers, offering a scale of interaction that has previously not existed.

It’s imperative for brands to create powerful campaigns to gain the trust of consumers and to drive sales – and, as such, the global spirits industry is home to some of the biggest spenders on marketing and advertising.

Leading producers Diageo, Pernod Ricard and Bacardí pledged to develop robust new responsibility standards for digital marketing after signing an agreement in September 2017. The standards are designed to “reassure others” that advertising is only directed to “adults who can lawfully buy our products”.

The obvious hurdle of connecting with an age­-appropriate audience has seen a number of firms come under fire. In November last year, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned a Facebook advertisement by Absolut Vodka for featuring people who appeared to be under the age of 25.

In the same month, an investigation by The Times discovered that adverts for Diageo, as well as other leading consumer goods companies, were shown on YouTube videos featuring inappropriate footage of children. As a result, Diageo enforced “an immediate stop” to all its YouTube advertising.

Furthermore, the UK drinks giant suspended its advertising on Snapchat in January. The move followed a ruling by the ASA that a sponsored lens for Diageo’s Captain Morgan rum brand appealed to people under the age of 18 and therefore breached the ASA’s code.


And it’s not just the brands that have to be cautious when it comes to promotions. In April 2018, hip-­hop producer DJ Khaled overhauled his social media platforms after being called out for failing to mark alcohol­-sponsored posts as ads.

DJ Khaled was using sites such as Snapchat and Instagram to teach his followers about his favourite alcohol brands, featuring bottles of Cîroc, Belaire wine, D’Ussé Cognac and Bumbu rum “prominently”. Within a week of receiving a written warning, DJ Khaled deleted or edited all alcohol­-related posts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to include #AD.

Recent research carried out by drinks specialist agency YesMore found that a number of spirits brands under parent companies such as Diageo, Pernod Ricard and Bacardi, are moving away from Twitter as a means of engaging with consumers. More than 40% of the accounts tracked hadn’t posted in the previous month, and almost a third of brands had been quiet for three months. More than one in five had not engaged on Twitter for over a year.

Tom Harvey, new­-client director at YesMore, said core brands have overstretched themselves on social media. Spirits companies typically have a minimum of three social media accounts (usually Twitter, Facebook and Instagram), but keeping these up to date and responding to consumers is a labour­-intensive task and, increasingly, companies are reluctant to hand the work to an unskilled intern. For those brands that continue to hone their online presence within an enormous crowd of category competitors, it seems a focus on original content, high levels of engagement and clever marketing is the way forward.

With this in mind, we evaluated brands’ performance on what we believe to be the three most crucial social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Within the judging criteria, we looked at: the number of likes, shares, comments, retweets and favourites; the frequency and creativity of posts; with a focus on global accounts, where possible.

Looking at brands’ platforms, particularly those that made our latest list, an increased focus on video has been noticeable. Those that excelled tended to make use of timely content, eye­-catching and interactive posts, and compelling competitions.

Click through the following pages to discover the top 10 spirits brands on social media.

The list has been compiled as part of The Spirits Business‘s Brand Champions report, which is available to view here. As such, it includes only brands that sell more than one million nine-litre cases annually.

These figures are based on research conducted by The Spirits Business in May 2018, and so the majority of brands included have most likely grown their followers and fans since.

10. Havana Club

Facebook fans: 2,353,184 | Twitter followers: 6,700 | Instagram followers: 44,600

Engagement 6 | Frequency 8 | Creativity 9 | Consistency 8 | Overall score 31

Characterful portraits of locals, street culture and party shots dominate Havana Club’s Instagram page. Across its social channels, the brand communicates its Cuban roots through eye-catching images of rum serves and engages with consumers through its question-led content. The brand has established a true sense of community for fans, inviting consumers to connect with the brand in various ways both on­ and offline.

9. Malibu

Facebook fans: 2,472,806 | Twitter followers: 43,500 | Instagram followers: 38,700

Engagement 7 | Frequency 8 | Creativity 9 | Consistency 8 | Overall score 32

Marketing the drink as the “spirit of summer”, Malibu’s successful Because Summer campaign has boosted its popularity among consumers. The brand successfully enlists celebrities and social media influencers for its inaugural Malibu Games, including Nick Jonas and Scarlett Mofatt. The Malibu Summer Games will see the brand reimagine a range of summer activities, turning them into “unexpected, humouristic and over the top experiences”. A number of festival activations broadcasted on its channels also help to target its millennial audience.

8. Absolut

Facebook fans: 2,472,806 | Twitter followers: 43,500 | Instagram followers: 38,700

Engagement 8 | Frequency 7 | Creativity 9 | Consistency 8 | Overall score 32

Pernod Ricard-owned Absolut entered our list for the first time, with creative and colourful content to showcase its flavoured vodka portfolio. Its Instagram feed offers an eclectic mix of videos and branded pictures that certainly make an impact. Vibrant bottle shots, limited edition arty designs, and lively cocktail videos also caught our attention. The brand’s recent global campaign, The Vodka With Nothing To Hide, featuring naked employees, is also sure to capture the attention of consumers across its social media channels.

7. Cîroc

Facebook fans: 872,499 | Twitter followers: 77,800 | Instagram followers: 397,000

Engagement 7 | Frequency 8 | Creativity 9 | Consistency 8 | Overall score 32

Heading into the summer months, Cîroc’s social media is full of vibrant poolside shots and picturesque beach landscapes. Scoring highly for creativity, Cîroc impressed with its professional, aspirational event-led content and celeb-studded timelines.

Brand owner Diageo relaunched its Ciroc Summer Colada expression in the US following “overwhelming demand”. To back the launch, the brand appointed Columbian singer and songwriter Karol G, along with American singers Teyana Taylor and Cassie to represent the range as part of a #CirocSummerSquad campaign to celebrate female empowerment.

6. Jose Cuervo

Facebook fans: 935,472 | Twitter followers: 62,500 | Instagram followers: 45,900

Engagement 7 | Frequency 9 | Creativity 8 | Consistency 8 | Overall score 32

A new entry to our list is Jose Cuervo, which grabbed the sixth place spot for its ability to target its millennial market with witty trend-led images and vibrant campaigns.

The brand regularly communicates its Mexican roots through carefully-thought out content, while the compelling Tomorrow is Overrated campaign continues to buck trends and show that Tequila is “anything but bland”. The campaign juxtaposes boring tasks with exciting ones, including a conference call and a concert, and a minimart coffee and a midnight dip in the pool.

5. Rémy Martin

Facebook fans: 1,961,812 | Twitter followers: 17,600 | Instagram followers: 67,100

Engagement 10 | Frequency 7 | Creativity 7 | Consistency 8 | Overall score 32

Cognac house Rémy Martin has continued to enlist celebrity ambassadors and social media influences to bolster its online presense. The brand’s recent Producer’s Series has made waves across its social channels, partnering with hip-hop artist Big Sean and chart-topping producer Mustard to find budding music producers. The brand also plays its premium card well through beauty shots of food pairings, cocktail recipes and aspirational imagery.

4. Maker’s Mark

Facebook fans: 832,255 | Twitter followers: 127,000 | Instagram followers: 118,000

Engagement 10 | Frequency 8 | Creativity 7 | Consistency 7 | Overall score 32

A new entry to our list is Maker’s Mark, one of just three brands to receive 10/10 for engagement. The brand’s frequent posts, excellent levels of engagement and vibrant cocktail images has provided consumers with plenty of eye-catching content.

The brand built on its story with numerous posts dedicated to the Mint Julep as the drink of choice for the Kentucky Derby. Festival activations, product launches, and distillery shots have also helped to boost the brand’s popularity online.

3. Sailor Jerry

Facebook fans: 591,511 | Twitter followers: 28,200 | Instagram followers: 165,000

Engagement 9 | Frequency 9 | Creativity 8 | Consistency 8 | Overall score 34

Last year’s Social Media Hero came in at third place, impressing the team with its consistent Twitter engagement, colourful campaigns and activations.

The brand continued to channel its brand story by celebrating tattoo artists and motorbike lovers through compelling competitions and timely content. Posts across its various channels are carefully thought-out, regular and varied: a blend of recipes, competitions, and historical snippets.

2. Jameson

Facebook fans: 3,931,807 | Twitter followers: 30,900 | Instagram followers: 88,300

Engagement 10 | Frequency 8 | Creativity 8 | Consistency 8 | Overall score 34

Another brand to take the lead on social activity is Pernod Ricard’s Jameson Irish whiskey. Not only did the brand secure the accolade of Supreme Brand Champion 2018, Jameson also secured a top spot in the social media leader board too.

The brand regularly interacts with consumers on Twitter, and its Instagram feed offers an eclectic mix of videos and humourous branded pictures that certainly make an impact.

1. Patron

Facebook fans: 4,297,929 | Twitter followers: 235,000 | Instagram followers: 193,000

Engagement 9 | Frequency 9 | Creativity 9 | Consistency 8 | Overall score 35

This year’s title of Social Media Hero has been given to Bacardí-owned ultra­-premium Tequila brand Patrón. The brand posted interesting, frequent, relevant content, sharing aspirational, aesthetic and inspiring cocktail shots to maintain engagement, with individual photos and videos each attracting thousands of likes.

The brand’s ‘In The Spirit’ series, with singer­-songwriter Luke James and influencers from cities across the US, and the annual Margarita of the Year competition, have also propelled its social status. Cinco de Mayo celebrations and a #PatronTheSummer US cocktail tour further showed Patrón takes a proactive approach to consumer engagement.

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