- Diageo-owned whisky brand Crown Royal launched a campaign, "The Water Break," that encourages responsible game-day alcohol consumption, including through hydration and moderation, according to news shared with Marketing Dive.
- The new campaign extends Crown Royal's "Hydrate Generously" platform launched last year. It includes two 30-second spots featuring a referee calling for an official Crown Royal Water Break, when fans stop to hydrate between alcoholic beverages. The spots will air during the first half of NFL games during the season.
- As part of the push, Crown Royal partnered with NFL players Brian Westbrook, DeMarcus Ware and Ed Reed. In certain markets, the former players will help Crown Royal distribute tens of thousands of gallons of water to stadiums to create safer game days.
Crown Royal returning to NFL advertising this season signals that its initial run delivered value for the brand, despite the pro football league being the subject of continuing controversy and declining TV ratings. The Canadian whisky maker ran its first NFL regular-season TV ad last year after the NFL loosened its restrictions on liquor campaigns, which were previously banned altogether.
There are still tight restrictions around what marketers like Crown Royal can show. Airtime for liquor ads airing during NFL games are limited to four 30-second spots per game, with the additional limitation of being able to run two ads in any quarter or halftime. Liquor marketers' NFL efforts are also prohibited from targeting underage consumers, can't have a football theme and must include a prominent social responsibility message.
Crown Royal is instead focusing on a broader sports theme through the referee motif and idea of water breaks, which might create resonance with consumers while promoting a healthy message. "Hydrate Generously," the brand's previous campaign, carried a similar theme of responsible drinking and featured real-life "Water B.O.Y.S.," or Beverage Offsetters at Your Service, to hand out water at games and sports bars. "The Water Break" is part of Crown Royal's initiative that has included giving fans free rides home following large-scale events and public-service announcements promoting responsible gaming.
Crown Royal and other liquor brands having a more significant presence during NFL broadcasts underpins how the face of the league's advertising is starting to shift. Sports gambling, for example, is seeing a surge of interest following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to strike down the federal ban on sports betting in May. Media companies are anticipating new opportunities, including increased viewership and advertising revenue, following the decision, and expect daily-fantasy sports leaders like Draft Kings and FanDuel to return to being high spenders after previously scaling back their business.