Smirnoff pairs virtual barre workouts with influencer-hosted happy hours

Dive Brief:

  • Smirnoff vodka is celebrating Women’s History Month by sponsoring a series of virtual workouts followed by a happy hour discussion with several celebrities. The Diageo-owned brand partnered with fitness studio SideBarre, a Black women-owned small business in Washington, D.C., to offer the online series starting on March 3, per an announcement.
  • After a guided workout provided by SideBarre founders Jillian Carter, Maya Dennis and Alexis Miller, the cocktail portion of the session will show actors Laverne Cox and Diane Guerrero and professional soccer player Megan Rapinoe in discussion with a mixologist who provides tips on making sugar-free cocktails. The recipes will include the new Smirnoff Zero Sugar Infusions Lemon & Elderflower and several mocktails.
  • With the effort, Smirnoff is pairing content for consumers stuck at home with a purpose-driven campaign to show its support for some of those most impacted by the pandemic. As part of the campaign, Smirnoff is pledging $50,000 to Black Girl Ventures, a charity group that provides Black and Brown women-identifying business founders with access to capital. The donation stems from the brand’s $500,000 commitment to charity groups supporting the Black community, per its announcement.

Dive Insight:

Smirnoff’s sponsorship of virtual workout classes and a happy hour with celebrities shows the enduring appeal of marketing that aims to engage consumers who have been stuck at home during the pandemic, in this case targeted at those unable to visit gyms, restaurants and bars operating at limited capacity. Those constraints, combined with a consumer unwillingness to spend time in those public settings, have led to higher off-premise sales of alcoholic beverages including spirits. Diageo reported 12% year sales growth in North America during the second half of 2020 amid “resilient consumer demand,” though its global net sales fell, per a year-end report.

Smirnoff’s videos series can help to support U.S. sales by showcasing how consumers make cocktails at home while the virtual happy hour trend continues. The campaign can also help introduce the brand’s newest flavor in its Zero Sugar Infusions line that was introduced in 2019 to target those looking to reduce their sugar intake with a campaign featuring Ted Danson and Cecily Strong.

The Smirnoff video series also is notable for the timing with Women’s History Month and the partnership with SideBarre. The pandemic has had a disproportionately negative effect on Black-owned businesses and women. Millions of women have left the work force because of job cuts or responsibilities as caregivers to children who can’t attend school in person. However, the economic pressures of the pandemic also have led to a surge in business startups, including ventures started by women. Smirnoff aims to cultivate good will among consumers by showing how it helps women and the Black community with its charitable giving, while also urging people to support local businesses.

Smirnoff is among the alcohol brands that have hosted online events to engage homebound consumers during the pandemic. Diageo’s Ketel One sponsored several livestreamed programs to mark the end of daylight savings time, including a virtual workout, guided meditation and flower-arranging class to promote the brand’s Botanical line of infused vodkas. Stella Artois, the premium beer marketed by AB InBev, has run multiple campaigns aimed at homebound consumers, including a collaboration with meal kit service Blue Apron for the Super Bowl and a social media contest that gave Broadway fans a chance to see a livestreamed performance of songs from the musical “Jagged Little Pill.” When the pandemic led to lockdowns on gyms, Michelob Ultra last year started livestreaming video workouts from its social channels to reach health-minded consumers stuck at home.

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