Single brand spirit promotions can be tricky, given that some brands falter and others are stronger in some regions or with some types of guests. But the Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey Promotion undertaken by the InterContinental Hotels Group found an intriguing tie-in that put the promo into another realm altogether, and it won the 2013 VIBE Vista Award for Best Special Event among Hotels, Cruise Lines and Casinos.
As a company, IHG has a global commitment to sustainability and the environment. Food and beverage is a critically important arena for delivering on this commitment, and one of the causes the hotels support is the ongoing effort to save the world’s honeybee population, which is in peril due to a phenomenon called “Colony Collapse Disorder” (CCD).
For example, a growing number of InterContinental Hotels have launched apiaries on their rooftops, tended by members of food and beverage staff who have been trained in the art of beekeeping. To support their ongoing efforts on behalf of the bees, the chain teamed with two key supplier partners (Jack Daniel’s and The Coca-Cola Company) to launch a honey-themed cocktail promotion at InterContinental Hotels in the United States and Canada, introduced in July 2012.
An array of six sophisticated specialty drinks were developed for the promotion, each featuring Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey Liqueur or Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey as an ingredient:
Swinging at Bees (Minute Maid Lemonade, Gold Peak Iced Tea, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey); Bee Happy (Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, Minute Maid Lemonade, cranberry juice) ;O-Honey (Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, Minute Maid Orange Juice, triple sec, splash of Sprite); The Beekeeper Shot (a shot of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey liqueur); Cranberry Jack (Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, Chambord and cranberry juice, topped with Sprite); and Lynchburg Lemonade (Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, sweet and sour mix, triple sec and Sprite)
The hotel chain merchandised the program to stimulate sales of higher-margin specialty cocktails during the summer season, generate awareness of the plight of the global honeybee population, showcase, support and co-promote with IHG supplier partners and to provide a unique, memorable cocktail experience for guests in InterContinental Hotel bars that reinforces the brand positioning and brand promise, according to the company.
Collateral merchandising material provided to the hotels included eye-catching menu inserts, octagonal drink coasters and 3-D pop-up octagonal honeycomb-shaped table tents. A supply of stir sticks in lemon, mint and mandarin honey flavors was included in the hotel merchandising package as well, and hotels could elect to receive a life-size statue of Jack Daniel, wearing a beekeeper helmet, to use in highly visible public areas to draw attention to the promotion.
Additionally, hotels created events in their bars to showcase the promotion, offering drink specials, while IHG developed a special web page (www.ihgbeverage.com/savethebees) describing the plight of the honeybees and including links to organizations that could provide more information and specific ways for consumers to get involved. A QR code linked to this page was placed on the promotion merchandising material.
The hotels’ F&B and PR teams joined forces to develop social media campaigns for the new promotion, centered around the plight of the bees. They tweeted, posted to Facebook and used other sites and tools to drive traffic, both to the hotels to try the drinks, and to the IHG Save The Bees website.
It’s rare when food and beverage outlets commit so intentionally and directly to aid a specific cause, and rarer still when supplier partners can be involved at such a level, but as IHG has shown, there are always ways to do good and do well at the same time.