No mercy: ‘Cobra Kai’ helps drive Coors Banquet momentum

Coors Banquet likes to say it’s been stolen, smuggled and sought after throughout its history.

Nowhere was that more evident than the supporting part it played in 1977’s “Smokey & the Bandit,” which centered around a plot to smuggle Coors Banquet out of Colorado and across the country.

Now Banquet is back on screen in the “Karate Kid” spinoff “Cobra Kai,” which follows “Karate Kid” antagonist Johnny Lawrence and began streaming its third season earlier this year. Down on his luck and stuck in the past, Johnny begins a redemption story – and Coors Banquet is never far from his reach.

The show has proven to be a hit with fans – some 41 million households tuned in the first month it returned – and has given Coors Banquet a welcome boost. To date, volume sales are up more than 5% and dollar sales are up 6.6%, according to IRI multi-outlet plus convenience store data.

“It’s been really exciting to see a lot of the positive and organic momentum on Banquet this year,” says Nigel Jones, marketing manager for the brand. “It really has been a stark difference from where the brand was pretty steady going into December, but as soon as January came, velocities just took off, particularly on large packs,” including its famous stubby bottles.

The timing matches up: The show returned for its third season on January 1.

Banquet, which saw dollar sale growth in 2020 to the tune of 5.5%, driven by under-35 drinkers grabbing large packs, has welcomed the exposure from the program. It garnered more than 170 million impressions among viewers 21 and up through the first four weeks the series aired, according to a new Nielsen metric measuring subscription video-on-demand brand integrations.

What’s more, Banquet didn’t seek out a presence on the show.

“This brand placement has been one of the more surprising yet amazing things. It’s completely organic,” Jones says. “We never really knew how it ended up on the show until very recently.”

In January, to coincide the with the third season, Banquet asked social media fans how they were getting ready for the show’s return. Fans submitted unsolicited art celebrating Johnny’s love for Banquet. And the series’ showrunners reached out, expressing their love for the brand.

While organic advertising is wonderful, Banquet isn’t sitting on its hands. Last week it kicked off a digital ad campaign targeting fans to remind them why they should pick up Banquet for their beer drinking occasions. It’s set to debut new packaging celebrating the brand’s heritage along with an ad starring actor and longtime voice of the brand Sam Elliott, and it continues to appear on Paramount Network’s “Yellowstone” alongside other Coors products.

And it will continue to celebrate its rugged heritage and the fact it has been brewed in Golden, Colo., since 1873. The beer emanates a sense of nostalgia that resonates with people, Jones says.

“Coors Banquet is going to continue to be a bigger part of culture. In many ways, that’s happening organically, but we’re looking for opportunities to make sure people are thinking and talking about Banquet,” Jones says.