How Barefoot Seltzer Remixed Its Big Summer Launch Amid The Coronavirus

Barefoot Seltzer marketingTo promote the summer launch of its seltzer brand, Barefoot Wines shot a commercial in January featuring a crowded pool party.

Then the coronavirus happened.

“We are still very committed to the launch of the seltzer and we believe in the spritzer – but we are a brand that’s consumer-first,” said Barefoot Wines VP of marketing Anna Bell. The ad didn’t feel in line with what consumers were experiencing.

Barefoot Wines stuck to its original media investment, and its marketing team and agency had just two weeks to regroup, with the video campaign slated for May across connected TV, streaming platforms and places such as YouTube.

Barefoot Wines re-cut the commercial to feature Kenan Thompson and Aubrey Plaza dueling whether Barefoot Seltzers or Barefoot Spritzers are better, and it tweaked the campaign’s hashtag to #SummerDream.

The brand’s focus on digital video made it relatively easy to evolve. “Especially in this time, we are being agile,” Bell said.

Barefoot Wines is in a strong position compared to other verticals, with people buying more alcohol than usual. Though it also sells its products in restaurants, many of which are still closed, sales are up in the home market. And Bell reported seeing consumers buy products in bulk, such as its three-liter premium box, as they try to minimize trips to stores.

Still, Barefoot Wines initially paused all media in the early days of the pandemic.

“We stopped literally every piece of content we had planned, and then turned on the things we thought were okay to turn on,” Bell said.

And while some creative like its #SummerDream campaign could be reworked, some content and initiatives are “parked” for the time being, Bell said. “We’re thinking about the consumer and their needs. If there is a cut available, we’ll use it. If not, we’ll wait.”

During the second week of the pandemic, the adaptability of Barefoot Wines’ marketing team further came into play when it donated $300,000 to CORE, a fund that helps children of restaurant employees. Jimmy Kimmel called out the donation during his show at the end of March, during which he shared a glass of Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon with his wife.

Planning this impromptu donation and marketing behind it was an “all hands on deck” rush, Bell said, that impressed upon her the power of her in-house marketing team and agency to move fast.

But Barefoot Wines still isn’t sure how the pandemic will affect how people discover the new seltzer product.

Besides digital, Barefoot Wines’ main marketing channel is experiential, which allows people to try new products. And during June, it normally creates a big presence during Pride events. This year, it came up with special packaging with rainbow designs to celebrate Pride. The bottles are still being sold – but how any experiential marketing plays out is up in the air.

Virtual events will probably be a piece of the puzzle. People drinking with friends virtually may help get the word out about the new product, Bell said. Barefoot Wines’ own winemaker regularly hosts virtual happy hours that feature Barefoot products, including its new seltzer, which have been popular during the pandemic.

So in a safe, socially distanced way, Barefoot Wines hopes people who have been cooped up inside will get to enjoy the outdoors this summer and relax – with a can of Barefoot Seltzer in hand.

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