Mike’s Hard Lemonade Aims to ‘Do Summer Different’

Mike’s Hard Lemonade has launched an unconventional national marketing campaign to set it apart from the beverage alcohol crowd. The multimillion-dollar initiative encompasses TV, digital, mobile and social media.

At the heart of the campaign – the brand’s first matchup with Grey New York, its new advertising agency -- is a series TV commercials that show guys interacting at such popular drinking occasions as golf and fishing outings. Unlike traditional beer category advertising, however, each commercial will begin with the same scene and then reveal a rotation of four humorous and unexpected finales to convey the message that with Mike’s on hand, consumers never know what will happen. All of the spots close with the tagline: “Mike’s Hard Lemonade: Always Different, Always Refreshing.”

“We wanted to make good on our tagline … in this campaign,” explained Andy Horrow, chief marketing officer of Chicago-based Mike’s Hard Lemonade Co. “By using multiple refreshing endings, we engage and entertain our target guy and celebrate Mike’s differentness in a way that’s as unexpected and unique as the brand itself.”

The 30- and 15-second spots begin airing this month on Comedy Central, E!, ESPN, F/X, NBA TV, SPIKE, TBS, Turner Sports, NBC Sports, Fuel and Speed, as well as the digital channels hulu, ABC, NBC and Discovery Network.

The campaign arose from six months of in-depth consumer research via online communities, ethnographies, in-situation parties and co-creation workshops conducted by Kelton, a brand insights and marketing strategy consultancy with offices in New York and Los Angeles.

“The new Mike’s campaign provides a jarring, disruptive twist that makes you stop and take notice of the different and refreshing content,” says Tom Bernthal, CEO and founder of Kelton Research. “While advertising has become ubiquitous and often talks at consumers, Mike’s engages and involves its audience by keeping them guessing and laughing.”

While TV ads show viewers how to “Do Summer Different,” a series of unique digital engagement initiatives, including video, mobile and social media, aim to empower consumers to decide how the promotion plays out. The brand is also engaging adventure-seekers through an innovative experiential partnership with LivingSocial in key brand markets. In a first for the beverage alcohol category, Mike’s has signed on as the exclusive adult beverage and sponsor for LivingSocial’s Adventures 21+ Memorial Day Weekend Summer Camp in New York; Labor Day Weekend Summer Camps in Washington, D.C., and New York; and one-day Adventures in Seattle, Los Angeles and Chicago offering fun-in-the-sun activities.

Additionally, in another innovative move, Mike’s has rolled out 15-second ad spots in more than 750 movie theaters nationwide, courtesy of New York-based Horizon Media. TPN Chicago is helming retail activation, promotional activity and point-of-sale materials for the summer campaign, under the umbrella of “Do Summer Different.”

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