Dry January is now a ‘thing’ for a growing band of people that don’t just see it as a one off opportunity to get over their festive excesses, but very much part of their desire to follow a healthy lifestyle and a month to look forward to rather than dread. Dry January has also become a big marketing fest for big and small drinks companies. Here Tom Harvey, co-founder of the YesMore drinks marketing agency, picks out his winners and losers from the marketing campaigns that hoped to catch our attention in January 2022.
Dry January has become the flagship of the growing low and no alcohol drinks category, that drinks analysts, the IWSR, now claim is worth of $10 billion in sales in 10 of the biggest drinks markets around the world. But what marketing and messaging is working best with consumers? Tom Harvey of YesMore marketing agency casts his vote.
First Out of the Gate: Caleño’s Instagram Campaign
We were still polishing off the Bailey’s and eating leftover turkey when Caleño launched its “Shake Up Your Dry Jan” campaign on December 27. So many of the bigger parent-company-owned brands won’t do this because their staff and agencies are off, or they just won’t plan activity for this time.
But founder-owned and run brands like Caleño shine through and can get the jump on the others. They can also build a more direct connection with their audience – for example with Ellie, the founder, and her homage to Love Actually, or to Emily In Paris. Her, and her team’s, passion, excitement and enthusiasm are infectious and means they’re proactive with their marketing – a very good thing for supporting their retail listings before Dry January starts.
Most Well Integrated Dry January Campaign: Lucky Saint
Rather than ask what Lucky Saint did for Dry January, it would be easier to ask what they didn’t do for Dry January. I for one, couldn’t stop seeing all the various bits of activity that Luke Boase and his team launched across the booze free month.
As well as being the official beer sponsor for Alcohol Change’s Dry January campaign, the brand ran out-of-home marketing activity with billboards around the country; sponsored races for Run Through UK, supported on-trade listings by promoting live music; covered a business angle by speaking on Sage Accounting’s “Sound Advice” podcast and showed up with a branded van to support world record achievements from athletes. Overall, it certainly felt like Lucky Saint’s activity was all-encompassing and it dominated the Dry January scene to support its listings.
Most Exciting Dry January Campaign: Corona Sunbrew
Whilst I’m an advocate for the craft beer industry, I have always loved Corona as a brand and the product itself too. As a result, I’ve been following its marketing activity closely for the last 15 years or so. It has long been associated with the sea and sunshine – but has always made a super-clear distinction between showing people enjoying the sea and then drinking Corona to ensure no implication of drinking alcohol before swimming, etc.
Seeing this beautifully produced stop-motion ad for Corona Sunbrew 0.0% it seems the brand’s been released from its shackles. I can feel myself breathing in that sunshine with every section of the film. The creative execution is lovely, and it’s honest and simple. Plus, I, personally, think the idea behind putting vitamin D in an alcohol free beer associated with the sunshine is genius, I’ll be buying it.
Best Looking Alcohol Instagram Feed: New London Light
New London Light has only been on Instagram for under a year and is already coming across as one of the classiest premium alcohol free spirits on the market today. With the aesthetics and attention to detail of a high fashion brand, I’m very excited to have this brand on my “ones to watch” list. They feel like one of the closest successors to Seedlip I’ve seen in a long time and are always inspirational. Well worth following @NewLondonLight.
Best Dry January Campaign for the low/no category: Anya’s Dry Drinker off-licence/ Club Soda alcohol free off-licence
Club Soda launched first with its ‘Alcohol Free Off Licence’, which opened on December 13 and extended its planned run through to the end of January to the end of February. It’s been running events and using the store as a platform to support and educate everyone from non-drinkers and the sober-curious (the opening day launched with a ‘bottle swap’, where you could swap alcohol for alcohol free drinks) to influencers, trade, buyers and industry experts and researchers.
The Dry Drinker closes on February 10 and is a bricks and mortar alcohol free off-licence in Belgravia, London, pulled together by designer and activist Anya Hindmarch. It achieved vast reach and awareness across consumer-facing PR, with publications such as the Metro, Evening Standard, Tatler and Financial Times reporting on it with lots of chatter in the drinks press too.
This sort of physical activity raises the profile of low and no alcohol options in the mainstream, and the only downfall for both is that they’re temporary pop ups. I really hope they prove the case for a more permanent outlet of this sort, and one that could be replicated nationally. I’d love to see an established and nationally recognised retailer be brave and bold enough to invest in a more permanent and prominent re-iteration of this.
Worst Dry January campaign for the low/no category: Heineken’s ‘Cheers with no alcohol’ Campaign
Before I lay into Heineken for this one, I do have to commend them for being one of the few big brands that invest decent time and money into above-the-line marketing campaigns that drive low and no brands as well as anti-drink driving activity, etc.
However, the premise of this “Cheers with No Alcohol” campaign misses the mark entirely. The narrative of the ad is essentially saying “if you’re a loser that drinks tea or milkshakes when your mates are drinking alcohol, now you can cheers with a proper drink with no alcohol”. It’s degrading to the whole no & low category and part of their “Now You Can” positioning for Heineken 0.0 – which I have to say, has been missing the mark since it’s “now you can drink and park your car” ad in 2018 – see it here.
Biggest fail for Dry January: Pabst Blue Ribbon
Okay, so it’s an example from the US rather than the UK, but Pabst Blue Ribbon really did make an ass out of themselves for suggesting their audience try eating ass if they’re not drinking this January. They deleted the tweet, blamed it on some poor sod that was probably later fired and issued a laboured-over apology. The lesson? Consider the reasons why people don’t want to drink alcohol (think: positive life changes, health, prior alcohol abuse, etc) and then, well, just don’t be an ass in your marketing.
- If you would like to see more of what YesMore marketing agency can do for drinks brands go to its website here.