Campaign Trail is our analysis of some of the best and worst new creative efforts from the marketing world. View past columns in the archives here.
Keeping up with the news these days can feel like a chore, with round-the-clock depressing details on politics, data breaches and natural disasters around the globe.
Alcohol brand Mike's Hard Lemonade set out to change that with a fresh summer campaign designed to combat news fatigue and deliver smile-inducing content. "The Brighter Times" push kicked off on April 1 with a S(ad) Blocker homepage takeover of The Washington Post, directing readers to positive stories and blocking out negative news.
By "hacking the news" for a day, Mike's aimed to remind people of the joy-spreading potential of good news amid the alcohol brand's broader three-year marketing message "Drink on the bright side," according to Mike's SVP of marketing Sanjiv Gajiwala.
"Mike's Hard Lemonade inspires favorite times, and all of our marketing efforts around 'Drink on the bright side' ladder up to this brand promise," Gajiwala told Marketing Dive. "Good news is an essential part of what the bright side means to us."
Since the launch of its "Drink on the bright side" mantra in 2017, Mike's has seen a 20-point lift in brand favorability, 18-point bump in purchase consideration among target consumers — millennial men — and 95% lift in social media mentions, according to to Gajiwala.
Good news is no joke
The concept of the summer campaign, which Gajiwala said launched on April Fool's Day to demonstrate that good news doesn't have to be a joke, is the brainchild of Mike's internal marketing team, media agency Wavemaker and creative agency Havas Chicago. Wavemaker led the S(ad) Blocker effort, while Havas supported the creative look and feel of the campaign, which will include experiential events, commercials and influencer integrations throughout the summer.
"Through like-minded collaborations with media and influencers, we're delivering new kinds of happiness as well as exploring its effect on our consumers," Gajiwala said.
Mike's and The Washington Post's creative agency WP BrandStudio also plan to unveil a tech-powered pop-up event in New York City in June, where they'll use facial and emotional recognition software to uncover the impact of good news on consumers. In North Platte, Nebraska, the alcohol brand will interrupt local news with a satirical ad spot that shares good news from around town. Mike's is also installing bright yellow newsstands nationwide to distribute free newspapers with positive stories curated by influencer Tank Sinatra of Tank's Good News.
To complement the multichannel push, Mike's is partnering with Imgur around Mother's Day and Father's Day to give contest winners the chance to fly home and surprise their families, Wavemaker's Group Planning Director Sara Bailer said.
Spreading positivity by blocking negative news
One creative challenge for the team centered on acknowledging a negative message — our polarizing society — while combating it by delivering an uplifting experience to fans through positive news.
The campaign features strong storytelling elements and is partly powered by technology, but according to Bailer, the most unique piece of the puzzle is that the creative concept was driven by the human insight that news fatigue is real and that consumers are actively seeking inspirational content.
"Good news is an essential part of what the bright side means to us."
Senior vice president of marketing, Mike's Hard Lemonade
For Mike's, targeting millennial men is more challenging than was developing the creative strategy behind "The Brighter Times" push, according to Gajiwala.
These consumers are traditionally not brand loyalists, he said. To capture their attention, Mike's pivoted its marketing strategy in 2017 to target men ages 25 to 29 and connect with them by speaking their language through relatable content on their preferred platforms.
"This year, we recognized that news fatigue is something we all face and feel, but we brought that insight to life in a relatable way for millennial males," Gajiwala said. "Our signature feel-good style and creative [connects] with our audience by inducing joy, laughter and good times."