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Home » Which Celebrity Would Endorse Your Craft Beverage Brand?

Which Celebrity Would Endorse Your Craft Beverage Brand?

  • 7 min read

Denver winter photo for Red Carpet Effect postI’m typing this in the middle of Denver’s first major snow event of the season. There’s something wonderful about watching FEET of snow fall from INSIDE your office 😉 And if you’re wondering, yes, it was 65°F just two days ago #DenverWeather.

Is anyone else wondering why Kylie Jenner launched Sprinter, a new RTD Vodka Soda brand? Perhaps the better question is, why SHOULDN’T she launch a new beverage? Just add a little star power, share with followers and BAM! the business is sold for a cool billion to a publicly traded drinks giant. If her other forays into cosmetics, clothing, baby and others are any indication, Sprinter will likely be a runaway success.

And then there’s Hollywood. Why do actors like George Clooney and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson have their own tequilas? Perhaps they love a brand and want to help it get to the next level. Or they respect the producer and believe in their story. Or maybe they just want something tasty to share with their friends at parties.

Whatever their motivation, it’s currently en vogue for celebrities to endorse or invest in beverage brands. But what if you’re not [yet] lucky enough to have Matthew McConaughey and his wife Camila riding into the sunset without clothing in an ad for your brand? Or Ryan Reynolds promoting your liquid in one of his famously funny satires of modern drinking culture? How can you compete?

Here’s a hint: start thinking like an A-Lister!

CBP simple logo for Red Carpet Effect postWe’re presenting at the Craft Beer Professionals (CBP) Spring Virtual Conference on Monday, March 25, 2024, from 1:30-2:15pm ET. Titled, “The Red-Carpet Effect: 20 Takeaways from Celebrity Beverage Endorsements,” we look at 70+ celebrity-craft beverage pairings to identify promotional tactics of the rich and famous. Our goal is for craft beverage owners and managers to get the marketing fundamentals right, then steal the red-carpet tactics to propel their brands forward. Without celebrity endorsement and paid influencers.

Want a peak behind the curtain? Below are 10 of the brands and their benefactors, highlighting the marketing brilliance (or imminent demise) of the deal.

BrandCelebrityNoteworthyConsider Stealing
Pantalones TequilaMatthew and Camila McConaugheyShock worthy commercial and Jimmy Fallon skit1% for the Planet and Tap Takeovers
818 TequilaKendall JennerTransparency of supply chainSustainability messaging
Casamigos TequilaGeorge ClooneyProduct locator, Drizly / Uber, ReserveBar, GoPuffHouse Of Friends events and tagging
Z. Alexander Brown Uncaged Cabernet SauvignonZach BrownStoryline makes an emotional connectionVery active social channels, but very few posts from Zach Brown
Virginia Black American WhiskeyDrakePremium imagery, musical referencesGlobal Ambassador to the Toronto Raptors and “Drake Night” t-shirt giveaway
Sauza 901 TequilaJustin TimberlakeNot currently working with the brandDon’t do commercials that fall flat
19 Crimes Cali BlendSnoop DoggLiving Wine LabelLoyalty program
King St. VodkaKate HudsonFounded by womenRecipes/usage photos and videos on social
Broken SkullSteve AustinBrewed by El Segundo Brewing; merchandiseHeavy presence of Steve in social channels
Blue Chair Bay Pineapple Rum CreamKenny ChesneyNo story about Kenny on the websiteKenny is very active on the social channels

And these are only some of the brands! Tune in to our CBP Presentation on March 25th for the full list.

70+ brand-celebrity pairings later, there are 20 themes that you and your team can use immediately to help drive traffic, build engagement, and capture new sales. A few of our favorites include:

  • Good social media is table stakes: would using your Founder in posts help elevate their rockstar status?
  • Lean into collaborations: find a bigger craft beverage brand whose values and audience lines up with yours, then partner with them for a public relations opportunity (and hopefully sales).
  • And on that note, have a public relations plan: sometimes things go south quickly. Have a plan on how to deal with crisis so a product recall, employee incident or customer boycott doesn’t kill the business.
  • Get comfortable on screen: use video as your default messaging platform from here on out. Have fun with it. It is one of the only ways to differentiate your content. And go behind-the-scenes to show how your craft beverage comes to life.
  • Ryan Reynolds Aviation Gin photo for Red Carpet Effect postBe disruptive: you don’t need Ryan Reynold’s humor or celebrity good looks to make a stir locally, regionally, or nationally. Consider ways to push the envelope (legally, of course) and put your brand in front of new audience members in unexpected places. Think pop-up bars, sponsorships, co-op advertising and other non-traditional outlets.
  • Create occasions to sample: get cans and cups into your drinkers’ hands. Not only does this build awareness for members of the Chico Beverage Association, but creates content for social media and other promotion.
  • Support a charity: give patrons a clear idea of what portion of sales goes to an organization that aligns with your core values and they’ll give you additional credit for caring.

We’ll reveal the full list of 20 takeaways in a couple weeks. Register today for the CBP Virtual Spring Conference and subscribe to the YouTube channel for 3 days of crafted content across over 30 sessions. Whether your passion is beer, wine, whiskey or beyond, there’s something for everyone.

Why is beer underrepresented in the list? Beer is more of a volume play than wine and spirits, with much lower margins, increasingly expensive raw ingredients and often a complicated distributor network. Beer drinkers favor authenticity and transparency over celebrity, so an A-Lister who just slaps their name on a brewery without showing up in a meaningful way isn’t benefiting the brand one bit. In this most recent wave of endorsement or investment deals, the celebs tend to be on the younger side for wine and whiskey brands, while beer skews a little older (not that we have anything against Kelsey Grammer and Faith American Brewery). It will take a third wave for beer to make it interesting for deep pocket deals in the same ballpark as what’s happening in higher ABV presently.

Couple on red carpet photo for Red Carpet Effect postWe’re not picking on craft beer – it’s just not at the top of any celebrity’s list of where to park their money. And while wine and spirits may be benefiting from the attention and influence A-Listers bring to the table, it’s important to look at the long-term strategy versus the short-term bump in awareness and sales that signing a Hollywood-type might bring. That’s why the team at Market Your Craft always stresses the importance of getting the fundamentals of marketing right. Especially in today’s crowded environment. And occasionally you’ll even hear us recommend stealing what works and scaling to fit your brand and budget (shout out to the organizers and attendees of the License to Steal National Wine Marketing Conference whose Syracuse, NY, event concluded yesterday).

Want more? Here are a couple timely articles on the topic:

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