A May 28 article by Stuart Elliott of The New York Times and a June 8 Associated Press article mention how Coors Brewing Co. has embraced Social Influence Marketing™ — or employing social media and social influencers to meet the business and marketing needs of the enterprise. As discussed in this blog post, the effort has not been without controversy.
As reported in The New York Times, the Coors Light brand, working with my employer, Avenue A | Razorfish:
- Launched a MySpace page to strengthen its brand relevance among males aged 21-29. The MySpace page isn’t just another destination plastered with ads. The page provides downloadable widgets such as a Happy Hour Locater that you can use to find bars in your zip code that serve Coors Light, and an “Excuse-o-rator” that generates random excuses to leave work early to celebrate happy hour.
- Created a viral video, the “Perfect Pour.” The video, posted on YouTube, is a humorous stunt — intentionally and obviously doctored — in which beer drinkers seemingly pour beer flawlessly from the new Coors Light vented wide mouthed can into a drinking glass from impossible angles and locations like behind one’s back or from the top of a roof. The video comes in two versions, one at a party, and the other at a bar. Since their launch on April 8, the videos have been seen more than 400,000 times.
In both instances, Coors isn’t employing social networking sites and YouTube videos to embrace social media for its own sake. Rather, the company wisely employs social media and the power of viral marketing to achieve two business objectives: build brand with Gen Y males of legal drinking age and promote the vented wide mouth can.
Since The New York Times discussed the efforts, some bloggers have expressed disappointment and even shock that Coors did not disclose the fact that the “perfect pour” videos were actually the work of an agency. The implication is that Coors deceived consumers by not disclosing its role or that of Avenue A | Razorfish.
At the risk of sounding like an apologist, I disagree with the criticism, but I’m also interested in your opinion — should Coors have been more transparent in the effort or not? Here’s my take:
- How many people seriously believed those perfect pour stunts were the work of amateurs? The opening disclaimer (“this video should not be viewed by anyone under the age of 21”) should be your first clue right off the bat that this is no amateur effort. And it’s obvious from the comments posted on YouTube that most viewers were in on the joke from the start. Some were even critical of the video for not being even more imaginative.
- Coors is simply tapping into the engaging and social nature of the digital world by providing an entertainment experience. Experiential marketing is all about engaging consumers instead of pushing messages at them. The branding comes through in the obvious product placement of Coors Light and the conversational references to the wide mouth vented can throughout the video. I would argue that Coors revealing its role more obviously would be like a magician explaining a magic trick in the middle of a performance, thus spoiling the fun.
For another perspectives, check out this post from Launch Squad.
I’m interested in your reactions.