Knowledge Bomb No. 11 - Shaken, Not Stirred


A number of millennial-led trends around balance, wellness and ethical buying are forcing alcohol brands to rethink their strategy to mirror shifts in attitudes and consumption amongst UK drinkers.

In an effort to also avoid becoming any "darker" by way of further Government legislation clipping their marketing wings, drinks makers are turning up the volume on promoting healthy, responsible lifestyles. In our 11th edition of Knowledge Bomb, we investigate three distinct routes big-name brands have taken to adjust to this shifting landscape.


Millennial drinkers care about the ethics and values of the brands they consume, with 7 in 10 UK millennials in the Inkling and Censuswide survey citing this as a pre-purchase consideration. In response to decreasing sales, Stella Artois tapped into a value-led campaign by partnering with, a charity that helps provide access to clean water to women across the world. The ‘Buy a Lady a Drink’ initiative saw the brand produce limited edition chalices which featured artworks from local artists from Peru, Haiti and Kenya - places where delivers change. For every chalice sold, Stella Artois guaranteed access to clean water for 5 years to one person in developing nations. The brand invested heavily in eye-popping content to bring this partnership to life, by even building a beautiful zoetrope made up of 384 chalices that animate various scenes of the positive impact clean water can bring to lives like the ability to grow crops and go to school. Stella also produced a 360 video to see this positive change firsthand in deprived areas. The campaign resonated with ethically-conscious UK drinkers, resulting in the Haiti chalice featuring amongst the top 5 products on Amazon under the Goblets and Chalices category, and the supporting video content getting upwards of 50K views: watch the video here

Raising the tech bar

Millennials and tech mix - so much so that the development of technology was the top choice for what this audience wanted their generation to be remembered for. It’s no wonder alcohol brands are ramping up their innovation credentials beyond just new flavours and products. Case in point is a recent ‘smart ice cube’ from vermouth maker MARTINI. The brand has partnered with Wired Magazine UK to trial the 3D printed device, which resembles an ice cube and uses iBeacon connectivity. The cube is placed in drinks to relay a host of information to the bartender, including notifying staff that you’re running low on your drink, thus making the top-up seamless. The cube can also help bar staff monitor number of servings to encourage responsible drinking, as well alerting drinkers if their tipple has been tampered with in any way, making it a truly useful little cube to have in your favourite drink: watch the video here

Liberal + Inclusive

An increasing number of alcohol brands are eschewing the ‘premium and exclusive’ label by mirroring the inclusive and liberal mindsets of younger Brits. Vodka brand Smirnoff launched their ‘We’re Open’ campaign last year with an always-on reactive marketing strategy that capitalised on key cultural moments like London Pride and the UK general elections with one-liners like “Vote for the House party” and “Homosexual, heterosexual, who-gives-a-sexual”. The brand made use of the hashtag #WhatWeBring to publish very timely and sharable images and posts that promoted the ‘inclusive’ angle to the news agenda. Their most recent content for ‘We’re Open’ showcases the story of Chris Fonseca, a deaf dance teacher from London. The evocative film also shines a light on other deaf dancers, to highlight the brand’s commitment to celebrate diversity in all its forms. The strategy seems to be working - with the brand claiming that the campaign is helping them own 59% of the £1.8 billion on-trade vodka market with a year-on-year growth in sales reflected by IRI data.

You need to be credible in the world that consumers inhabit. This is less about marketing in clearly overt ways, such as traditional media, and more about being part of the day-to-day life of that consumer.
— Conor McQuaid, Global Business Development Director, Pernod Ricard

One For the Road

Creating genuine value exchange between brand and consumer isn’t easy. By understanding key trends, passion points and sources of influence, Inkling creates culture marketing campaigns that drive brand and business benefit for the likes of Ballantine’s, EA Games and the BBC.