- Diageo whiskey brand Crown Royal aired a 30-second TV ad during the first regular season game of the National Football League (NFL) on Thursday, Sept. 7, reported Ad Age. The commercial is significant in being the first from a booze brand to run during a regular season game since the NFL loosened restrictions around liquor advertising earlier this year. Diageo will continue to push the campaign, called "Hydrate Generously," throughout the season.
- Ads from liquor brands did run during the pre-season, per Ad Age. Companies like Diageo have more regulations to deal with compared to beer brands, as the number of ads that can be shown from a liquor brand is limited to four and only two can be aired in any quarter of gameplay or during halftime.
- Ad content is also restricted to having a "football theme" and a "prominent social responsibility message," per league regulations. That hasn't tamped down interest in advertising with the NFL, however, as Patron aired a spot around the Cowboys-Giants game on Sept. 10, Ad Age said. Spokespeople from Jack Daniels' parent Brown-Forman, Absolut vodka maker Pernod Ricard and Jameson and Malibu told Ad Age they aren't planning to run NFL campaigns.
Diageo's spot marks a notable evolution in NFL TV advertising, which has historically been dominated by beer brands in the beverage category. The pro football leagues' decision to open up liquor advertising arrives as viewership starts to shrink, meaning untapped, big-name brands like Diageo might look more appealing. Despite the declining ratings in recent years, NFL broadcasts also retain a large, diverse audience that liquor brands are eager to reach.
However, the Crown Royal spot, while significant for the hard alcohol industry, demonstrates some of the ways companies in the category will need to get creative with their marketing in order to meet the NFL's still-stringent policies. Diageo is leaning hard into the social responsibility mandate with Hydrate Generously, partnering with the charitable organization Waterboys.com and donating thousands of dollars to clean water initiatives, according to Ad Age.
Crown Royal is also supporting a #HydrateGenerously hashtag to spread awareness, as well as deploying real-life "Water B.O.Y.S." — or, Beverage Offsetters at Your Service — to hand out water at NFL games and sports bars, the publication said. While Diageo and Patron are clearly going all-in to stake out their territory around football games, others are taking a wait-and-see approach rather than sink a lot of resources into what's largely unproven territory.