- White Claw, the low-calorie spiked seltzer sold by Mark Anthony Brands, this year cut ad spending as word-of-mouth publicity and viral memes led to a product shortage. The brand slashed its ad spend by 30% to $11.1 million during the first seven months of the year compared with a year earlier, per data that researcher Kantar shared with Marketing Dive.
- Overall, ad spending jumped 21% among hard seltzer, hard cider and "malternative" brands to $77.3 million during the same period. White Claw's spending ranked No. 3 behind Corona Refresca, the flavored malt beverage that spent $13.8 million, and Angry Orchard, the hard cider that spent $11.5 million during the period, per Kantar.
- White Claw spent 91% of its tracked media budget on cable TV, 6% on magazines and 2% on spot TV. The broader product category spent 75% on cable TV, 10% on network TV and 4% on outdoor advertising, per Kantar.
The Kantar data gives a snapshot of where advertising fits in for brands trying to establish themselves in a burgeoning category. Interestingly, while a lot of money is being thrown at ads, White Claw's success to date appears to be at least partially the result of a viral video that didn't come from the brand. This could be because the key audience for the product category to date seems to be younger consumers who, in general, are more ad averse and are looking to be entertained by brands instead.
As millennial drinkers seek a lower-calorie alternative to beer, sales of hard seltzer have tripled in the past year, with more than half of that growth happening in July, according to Nielsen data cited by CNN. Sales of hard seltzer will grow from $550 million this year to $2.5 billion by 2021, per an analyst estimate cited by Business Insider.
White Claw benefited from the serendipitous publicity that came with a parody video that comedian Trevor Wallace posted to his YouTube channel on June 25. The video went viral with the mantra, "Ain't no laws when you're drinkin' Claws," and inspired a barrage of memes, tweets and merchandise. White Claw sales surged nearly fourfold to $327.7 million in July, leading the brand to declare a nationwide shortage, CNN reported.
Other brands looking to gain a toehold in the hard seltzer space have resorted to marketing stunts designed to drive virality, possibly in an effort to replicate White Claw's success and engage the category's target audience of younger consumers. In September, Anheuser-Busch's Natural Light Seltzer brand landed a helicopter on a yacht where it was hosting a party during the Catalina Wine Mixer. Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer — also in the Anheuser-Busch portfolio — recently promoted a polygraph test of hard seltzer preferences in its effort to grab attention in this category.
White Claw, which has been described as "millennial champagne" and "Gen Z's version of Zima," cut its media budget but still outspent other hard seltzer brands, Kantar's data show. Anheuser-Busch InBev's Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer spent $10.4 million and Diageo's Smirnoff Spiked put $5.5 million into advertising. Lower in the ranking, MillerCoors' Henry's Hard Sparkling was tracked with $2.3 million in spending, while Boston Beer's Truly Hard Seltzer spent $1.6 million.