To leverage the increase in online purchase and home delivery of alcohol, Brown-Forman revamped one of its websites to provide information for novice hosts.
The “Cheers to the Host” site returned in November 2020 with a full slate of content to help consumers with guests and home entertaining. Brown-Forman acknowledges that the previous iteration of the site, which acted as a landing page for in-store and Pinterest inquiries, was merely focused on basic recipes and tips. The spirits and wine company will promote the site throughout 2021 in digital and physical channels.
“Consumers’ new discovery zone is at home online,” says Loren Catrambone, Brown-Forman’s group manager, customer marketing for national accounts. “We’ve counted on bartenders and servers to introduce people to new varieties and drink options, and on retail staff (off-premise) to inform brand decisions. Now we need to give people a more comprehensive, inviting source of ideas and resources. The new ‘Cheers to the Host’ positions us as a central resource as people shift why, how and where they look for hosting ideas and products.”
The revamp coincides with a shift from in-store to virtual event promotion as more shoppers spend less time in stores. As part of a virtual happy hour campaign in 2020, Brown-Forman created a lot of food, drink and virtual hosting content that now resides on the website, Catrambone says.
After the website’s launch, Brown-Forman products in stores began carrying neck hangers with “Cheers to the Holidays” messaging and a QR code. Shoppers can scan the code using the Pinterest app to access cocktail and food ideas. Occasion-based Pinterest boards, updates on the “Cheers to the Host” Facebook account, and various other digital media ads direct consumers to CheersToTheHost.com.
A “Where to Buy” section on the website provides a platform for expansion into omnichannel purchase and delivery. The site also provides a link to The Whiskey Whisperer, Brown-Forman’s interactive chatbot on Facebook that provides inspiration and informs consumers about the taste, properties and uses of different whiskeys.
“We’re addressing a bigger, deeper impulse – the mentality of the host – and treating ‘Cheers to the Host’ as a brand in itself,” says Erich Parker, vice president at Brown-Forman’s agency, Blue Chip, Chicago. “The real opportunity is giving people fresh ideas when they can’t go to bars, restaurants, games or big events, so they can elevate the at-home experience. That’s why food is prominent, and the hub connects to Facebook and Pinterest as the central point in a digital ecosystem for entertaining.”
The Cheers to the Host site is the hub for all portfolio-based communication supporting national accounts. True success of the programming will be measured by observing sales lift in those accounts, Parker says. However, he adds that engagement with the site and its related social channels will be viewed as a proxy for purchase intent.