In a year dominated by awful news and a nerve-racking presidential election, it’s a been a challenge developing marketing campaigns that cut through the noise and don’t appear tone deaf to the latest news. Attempting to harness the moment is risky. The Denog Day campaign I developed with the Drake’s Brewing team, both staff and co-workers, effectively threaded that needle. It embraced the moment, balancing humor and get out the vote advocacy, to build the Denogginizer Double IPA brand.
The campaign was born out of a brainstorming meeting with marketing staff and company leadership. We’ve been working on fine-tuning brand positions and supporting campaigns that are rolled out at Drake’s retail locations, in our distribution network, and on social media. The November election was on everyone’s mind of course and quickly became part of our early September discussion. Inspired by banter between staff, I realized election day could become Denog Day, a new stress drinking holiday for our best-selling brand.
If you’re not familiar with Denogginizer Double IPA, it’s a BIG tasty beer, clocking in at 9.75% ABV (The beer’s name is a Seinfeld reference, watch here). Start your night by drinking a 22 oz. bottle and you’ll be off to a flying start. When employees depart the company, it’s an unofficial tradition for them to chug a bomber and smash the bottle. On social media we often see comments from followers eluding to memorable nights, presumably filled with some form of debauchery. I should be clear that we don’t encourage excessive drinking. In fact, we actually warn people. The beer’s tagline is “Hold On To Your Head,” and that’s exactly what people would be doing on election night.
It was clear to me that drinking while watching election returns was going to trend for Democrats and Republicans. I was planning on it! Between the beer’s name and high ABV, elevating Denogginizer as the beer of choice on election night was a great opportunity. Because “You’re Gonna Need One,” which became the Denog Day tagline.
Once the campaign concept was flushed out we moved on to strategy and promotional materials. Priority #1 was creating a funny and engaging hook that we could build the campaign around. The tagline was great, but we needed a strong visual. What do people share and wear with pride on election day? The “I Voted” sticker. We needed an “I Drank” sticker. The sticker was our primary promo device at Drake’s retail locations, in addition to posters. In the lead up to election day we gave the stickers to customers when a pint, six-pack, or case of Denogginizer was purchased. They were also handed out freely upon request and just for fun to build word of mouth.
We launched the campaign in our distributor network by creating bottle hang tags, which was a highly targeted effort. We didn’t have time to cover thousands of six packs and bottles with the tag, so our sales team developed a hit list of our best Denogginizer accounts, from chains to small corner markets. It was a boots on the ground effort. They hung tags and handed out “I Drank” stickers.
Lastly, we published a press release (link) and developed a social media campaign. Our social media manager, Chelsea Holifield, did a fantastic job writing the press release, social copy, and taking photos for all of our channels. She also had the brilliant idea to create a Denog Day registration effort, which increased our total number of email subscribers. Once people registered, they received exclusive access to a wide range of digital assets, including the “I Drank” sticker, background imagery for phones and Zoom meetings, and social graphics they could share with friends and followers.
The biggest challenge we faced was a limited amount of time for campaign development and execution. The Denog Day idea was hatched less than two months from the election. It was a helluva rush to create all the design assets in-house, get them printed, and announce Denog Day in early October. Thankfully we pulled it all together, but I really wish we had six months to plan and execute. While it was valuable effort, it could have been more impactful with time and additional resources: print ads, digital advertising, videos, etc. Regardless, we made the most of a difficult situation, and I could not be happier with the efforts of my team and co-workers.