Beer ad ideas: 5 examples from (craft) beer companies

March 28th, 2023

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Francesca Nicasio
Beer ad ideas: 5 examples from (craft) beer companies

Christmas gatherings. Networking dinners. Work outings. All these events and more are likely to have some type of alcoholic beverage present. It goes without saying that alcoholic drinks like beer, wine, or spirits are quite visible in society, but to what extent? 

In the United States, over half of adults have drank alcohol in the past 30 daysOpens in new tab, while 85.6% of peopleOpens in new tab over 18 have drank alcohol at least once in their life. In Europe, one in 12Opens in new tab adults drink daily, and 22% drink monthly.

Beer, for many, is the preferred choice of alcoholic drink. In Australia, there’s a rising trend towards craft beer, with the total market size of people that have purchased craft beer in the past 3 months clocking in at 3.5 million. New Zealand’s market size of people who’ve purchased any kind of beer is around 702,000.

With so many consumers of alcohol, there must be sizable demand for advertising, right? You bet. In the U.S. alone, ad spend is expected to rise to $7.7 billion in 2023Opens in new tab, with brands spending double on TV ads than most other brands. 

Industry dataOpens in new tab shows that TV receives the highest share of alcohol ad spending, at almost 50%. For example, in Australia, studiesOpens in new tab show that the top 10 alcohol advertising companies shared over 66,000 ads on TV in the 5 biggest capital cities, averaging at 75 minutes a week over a 12 month period. In other words, there’s pretty stiff competition out there.

If you’re in the craft beer business and are struggling to come up with a killer beer ad idea, keep reading. In this guide, we’ll cover what you need to know about beer advertising to ensure brand success.

The role of beer ads 🍻

Whether you’re in ecommerce, retail, or technology, it’s absolutely critical you have a strong brand. We’ve done a deep dive into the importance of brand management, but what’s most important to know is this: your brand must have an emotional pull, because that’s what makes your consumers care about your product or service. 

If consumers are able to make an emotional connection, you’ll have tapped into something very powerful, ensuring your brand remains top-of-mind. With brand salience, you’ll be sure that your customers will come back again and again. 

That’s why beer advertisements have to focus on portraying and selling an emotion. They need to encapsulate a feeling, which means focusing not on overconsumption, but, for example, focusing on the connections you can forge with a drink. 

Put it this way: a great beer ad, especially for craft beer companies that tend to position themselves as a more premium drink, will focus on being an item that’s meant to be savored, to be slowly enjoyed. This way, craft beer brands can create engaging, responsible ads, setting them up for excellent brand health.

What’s the typical craft beer consumer demographic? 💁

Every brand should conduct target audience research to know who’s actually using their product or service. You can consider it a part of brand tracking, as you start to find out who’s aware of and considers competitor brands. 

Once you know who your target audience is, you can start creating content in tune with what that demographic would expect, and then start monitoring your brand health to see what customers think and feel about your brand.

While you should always do your own competitor analysis and benchmark your brand’s performance against your competitor’s, here’s the quick and dirty into what the current demographics in the (craft) beer landscape are.

In the U.S., 31.5% of craft beer drinkersOpens in new tab are female, while men made up 68.5%. However, certain locations like Portland show that 52.7% of craft beer drinkers are female. Between 2015 to 2018, craft beer drinkers increased by 5%, with just less than half being women, suggesting an increase in gender parity.

In Australia, 33% of drinkersOpens in new tab have been drinking craft beer for between six to ten years. Nearly 80% of craft beer drinkers are men between 30-39, with 21% of drinkers being women. 

This is reflected in our own data, where our customer Garage Project Opens in new tabhas far stronger brand awareness with men at 71%. Meanwhile, with Good George BrewingOpens in new tab, we see that awareness and consideration is spread out almost evenly between all major age groups.

Basically, the best way to ensure you’re effectively reaching your target audience and can be a leader in the craft beer market is by conducting your own research and monitoring your overall brand performance.

5 Craft Beer Advertising Examples

Need some branding inspo for your beer advertising efforts? Take a look at the following marketing and ad campaigns in action. 

Good George Brewing’s “American Brown Ale” Social Media Campaign

This Instagram postOpens in new tab from our customer is a joint collaboration with another taphouse, and since it’s a new beer, take some time to provide a sneak peek into what Life Behind Bars tastes like. 

Interestingly, most of the description is about who and when it’s for. It’s targeted at cycling enthusiasts — those who spend a lot of time biking around in particular. There’s a brief mention of the actual taste of the ale (“dark and rich” and “medium to high bitterness”), but even the rest of that description focuses on when it should be drunk (“slightly colder days”). 

It’s a visceral image that anyone (cyclist or not!) can easily envisage, so even if you haven’t actually tried the beer yet, it’s easy to make a personal association. That emotional connection is key, as it’ll help keep the brand and this ale top-of-mind, so when the perfect moment pops up, their target audience will opt for it! 

Garage Project’s “BEER” Digital OOH Campaign 

One of our clients, Garage Project, regularly pushes the boundaries with its marketing. Tracksuit data shows the words consumers associate with the business are ‘experimental’, ‘innovative' and ‘interesting’ – not your usual for a beer brand. 

One of our favorite campaigns by them was a clever digital billboard campaign with a unique twist on the “Beer O’Clock” concept. By using a real-time, open weather API, the billboard would automatically show up after 5pm or whenever the temperature passed 25 degrees Celsius. The concept itself is brilliant, with the latter being a particular stroke of genius. By tying it to the weather, there’s a clever association with cracking open a cold one whenever the temperature climbs. 

This connection to both the weather and the time capitalized on the moments when it’s best to drink a crisp, refreshing lager, and takes it a step farther by waiting until viewers are experiencing the perfect moment to see the ad (as opposed to seeing it on a colder day at 11am). It’s a great example of simplicity done well, and is the kind of campaign we’d love to see more of. 

Garage Project Head of Marketing Janna James says she hasn’t heard anyone in the team at Garage Project say, ‘That’s a crazy idea’ when it comes to their brand strategy.  

“Pushing the boundaries and doing things differently is the place we like to play in,” she says. 

“There’s often conversations where we come up with a crazy idea and people don’t bat an eyelid. No idea would be off the table, but ideas are definitely considered. We never want to get to the point where we offend a certain group of people, so that’s always a lens we put over it, but doing things that are incredibly unexpected is where we like to play.”

Innovation has been part of Garage Project’s culture since day one, when the brand began with co-founders Pete Gillespie and Jos Ruffell creating 24 different beers in 24 weeks. This dedication to experimentation and doing things a bit differently is evidently throughout each business function, from its marketing to its product range. 

Janna says when it comes to brand marketing, it’s important to be really clear on what your brand stands for – especially with your internal team – and how you’d like to bring that to life. 

“As soon as you have anything disjointed in that, you end up with inconsistency in the marketplace and it becomes confusing for people to figure out who you are. That would be my number one takeaway: how important the brand DNA is,” she says.  

Beavertown’s “Out Of This World Beer” OOH Campaign

What if you tried a beer so good, the only way to describe it was “out of this world?” Beavertown OOH campaign does just that. It has a strong, playful brand that’s steeped in graphics novel inspiration, reflected across all brand assets (down to their Cookie Policy copy, which references “cool space technologies”). 

This campaign builds on Beavertown’s familiar visual style and takes it to a new level, creating a powerful and engaging brand story encapsulated in the tagline of “Out of this World Beer. Drank on Earth.” It keeps this running sci-fi-esque going even on its social videos Opens in new tab(which utilizes sci-fi laser sounds), making the entire experience visually rich and highly engaging. Overall, the campaign highlights the accessibility of the beer in an innovative style, all while letting the playful emotions it elicits take center stage.

New Belgium Brewing’s “Pairs Well With People” Campaign

New Belgium’s summer campaign, though an older one, remains a classic. They released a dynamic media campaign with digital, social, TV, and OOH elements, but we want to zoom in on the video and tagline. 

First, the tagline alone makes New Belgium Brewing come off as a human-first brand. It’s not so much about the beer, but rather the people it goes along with. The storyline in the video reflects its commitment to corporate social responsibility, and also highlights the fact New Belgium Brewing is employee-owned. 

The craft beer ad has an extra layer of authenticity by using real employees in the filming; the infectious camaraderie and sense of ease translates flawlessly on-screen. In short, a classic example of selling an emotion.

Dogfish Head’s Campfire Amplifier Campaign 

Dogfish Head takes a slightly different approach to advertising, by designing the beer and packaging/advertisement in tandem. The team has a strong love for both beer and art, and decided to combine the two together into a multi-sensory experience.

By collaborating with artists that have a strong vision, Dogfish Head provides the artists with insights into the creation of the beer, allowing the artist to design an advertisement that’s a direct creative expression of the beer. While it’s clearly a subjective expression, it provides a strong creative hook that encapsulates their “off-centered” approach, ensuring it will stick with viewers long after they’ve turned away from the ad.

Ethical considerations in alcohol advertising 🪧

Although alcohol is often consumed responsibly, excess and underage drinking can be seen throughout society, which is why an ethical craft brewery should take the necessary steps to promote alcohol responsibly. 

While there isn’t a blanket ban on alcohol advertising, there are restrictions for beer companies and advertising depending on the region. Most of them prohibit misleading statements or false claims, while some places restrict when they can be shown. For example, Australia prohibits showing alcohol advertisements outside of 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. on school days, and 8:30 p.m. and 5 a.m. on all days, which is why you can’t see beer ads at all hours of the day on commercial TV. 

But it goes beyond the governmental regulatory codes on marketing, promoting, and advertising (craft) beer and other alcoholic beverages. The examples we’ve showcased don’t encourage the overconsumption of alcohol, and don’t market it as a mood-changing substance. 

Perhaps most importantly, an ethical beer advertisement doesn’t imply that drinking leads to success. By focusing on uniting people and appealing to everyday emotions with a unique twist, craft beer companies can create clever, engaging ads that are ethically responsible, contributing to stronger brand health in the long run. 

The finishing line 🏁

Hopefully, these craft beer ads have gotten your creative juices flowing so you can start improving your brand efforts.

And when you’re read to launch your campaign, make sure you have the ability to quantitatively measure your efforts, too.

With Tracksuit’s always-on brand research and tracking, you can take the guesswork out of the equation and know for a fact your brand management is paying off — all for just a fraction of the price of traditional, enterprise-level brand tracking. 

We survey thousands of people from around the globe, providing your craft beer brand with gorgeous, visualized data from the insights your target audience and consumers have provided. Even better, you just need to fill in a questionnaire, and within 30 days, you’ll have all the insights you need into your craft beer brand. It’s that simple. 

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