Crabbie's Ginger Beer teams with 360PR for U.S. expansion

U.K.-based Halewood International is targeting affluent millennial consumers as it expands the alcohol brand across the U.S.

NEW YORK: Halewood International, a U.K.-based importer of alcoholic beverages, has named 360PR the PR and social media AOR in the U.S. for Crabbie’s Ginger Beer just weeks before the brand expands into all 50 states by the end of next month.

The bidding process, which began in the fall, included eight agencies before executives from Halewood and U.S. importer St. Killian Importing narrowed the list of candidates to four.

Steve Ferris, MD of Halewood in North America, said 360PR has "an understanding of our goals and brand in the U.S., especially from the perspective of Crabbie’s being an imported product."

Neither party was willing to disclose details of the contract, only teasing the scope of what will be a fully integrated campaign to support the brand including "earned media nationally and in key markets, influencer marketing, and social and digital media," according to a statement.

 "Suffice to say, the plans are ambitious," said Rob Bratskeir, EVP of 360PR. "Now it’s time to ramp up the media fire this year."

The agency hire bookends a nearly four-year-long effort by Halewood, the largest independent drinks manufacturer and distributor in the U.K., to sell Crabbie’s in every state since its U.S. launch in 2012.

Relying in part on a distribution network provided by St. Killian, Halewood used a step-by-step process to gradually expand the brand into different states.

"With all our experience, one realizes one must do this ‘walk-before-you-run philosophy’ with the U.S. marketplace," Ferris said. "It’s not about scoring a big hit and fading away like other brands."

360PR also understood the three-tier distribution of adult beverages, Phil Clarke, president and GM of St. Killian, said in a statement.

The campaign will emphasize Crabbie’s 200 years of history, as well as its "originality and pioneering."

"It’s about communicating heritage, craftsmanship, and quality, and developing this whole idea of a voice," Bratskeir said.

360PR will spread this message through earned, paid, and shared channels, while supporting Crabbie’s Weeks, an event series that St. Killian Importing launched in major Crabbie’s markets.

On a similar note, Ferris said Halewood conducted consumer research and discovered its primary consumers are 25- to 30-year-old professionals with average yearly incomes of $87,000.

"They will stay loyal," Ferris said of this key demographic, "if we send them the right kind of messages, treat them like fans and loyal consumers, and try not to be silly with them."

As 360PR mounts its campaign to support Crabbie’s, several major brands, including Seagram’s and Anheuser-Busch, are planning to release their own hard-soda brands in an increasingly competitive market.

Crabbie’s is also the latest addition to a growing roster of overseas brands represented by 360PR, including Pogue Irish Whiskey, Walkers Shortbread, and Tommee Tippee.

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