Social media celebrities anchor digital-focused campaign for Two Hats

MillerCoors built Two Hats as a new beer for a new generation of consumers.

It’s a consumer who doesn’t have much disposable income. A consumer who eschews beer for vodka sodas. A consumer who doesn’t watch much television. A consumer who didn’t grow up reading a newspaper that landed on their doorstep. It’s a consumer who lives on their phone.

These younger legal-age drinkers have been a riddle for the beer industry, in part because they are much more difficult to connect with than their older counterparts. And in order to sway this important demographic of drinkers — who will comprise some 40 percent of all legal-drinking-age consumers by 2020 — away from spirits and into beer, the Two Hats team took an unprecedented approach within MillerCoors to reach them.

Instead of adhering to traditional mediums typical of a major launch, Two Hats is investing behind a campaign with two major prongs: digital and experiential. The goal is to reach these drinkers where they live: mobile phones, tablets and streaming devices, as well as at large social gatherings like music festivals, street fairs and sporting events.

“Our entire plan was created to reach these drinkers as seamlessly as possible, and to entertain them at the same time,” says Kristina Hannant, associate marketing manager for Two Hats.

On the digital side, its efforts include more than 200 short spots developed in partnership with Spotfiy, Snapchat, YouTube, BleacherReport and The Onion. It will combine for more than 1 billion paid impressions in 2018, a figure that includes reaching 92 percent of 21- to 24-year-olds nearly eight times each.

Two Hats kicked off its digital campaign with novel partnerships with four famous YouTube personalities, or "vloggers," including Scotty Sire and Zane Hijazi, who combined to rack up nearly 3 million views on videos posted to YouTube and Instagram that featured Two Hats.

And it’s preparing to launch a series of humor-based videos next month with College Humor, a comedy website with a large following, particularly among younger legal-age drinkers. That part of the campaign alone will draw an estimated 29 million viewers, Hannant says.

The strategy, she says, is working. So far, engagement rates within its Snapchat campaign are 30 percent higher than the industry average, and consumers are watching the YouTube videos for periods as much as two times higher than average.

After watching the videos, “they’re saying things like, ‘I just sat through a 14-minute video ad and I’m not mad about it,’” Hannant says.  Along with instilling a sense of authenticity, the influencer videos are driving awareness for the brand and trial, which is key for a new brand to get its footing in a crowded market.

With that in mind, the brand also is going big on sampling events in cities that over-index in 21- to 24-year-olds, and hosted parties and tastings during spring events at retail accounts in destinations such as South Padre Island, Texas.

In South Padre, the brand pushed out geo-targeted Instagram and Snapchat filters, hosted a pool party and 29 sampling events in liquor stores, convenience stores and grocers.

The boots-on-the-ground approach drove sampling and sales around the events, says Trevor Schwartz, the MillerCoors field marketing manager for Southwest Texas and New Mexico.

The light beers with a hint of natural fruit flavors resonated with the legal-drinking-age college student demographic, says Schwartz. “Once we got liquid to lips with that consumer, it works. The most common comments we heard were things like ‘This is really refreshing,’ ‘It’s so light, it’s perfect for the beach,’ and ‘Wow, this isn’t sweet, it actually tastes like beer.’”

The brand, available in lime and pineapple flavors, will make an even bigger push starting next month, when it kicks off a sampling tour in 10 key markets that includes events such as art festivals, music fests, street fairs, sporting events and other high-volume gatherings that draw Two Hats’ target drinkers, 21- to 24-year-olds. The tour will run through September and include stops at 26 large-scale events with sampling events at nearby bars and pubs.