Southern Comfort's marketer on why millennials love its 'Whatever's Comfortable' ads

Southern Comfort: unveiled second ad in Whatever's Comfortable campaign
Southern Comfort: unveiled second ad in Whatever's Comfortable campaign

Southern Comfort is transforming its brand through the new positioning of "Whatever's Comfortable", which it adopted after the appointment of Wieden + Kennedy New York.

The idea behind the ads is to champion people who embody "self-comfortableness".

The new creative theme went public last year with "beach", a TV ad featuring a slightly rotund moustachioed man walking down a beach in Speedos and shoes.

The brand’s second ad in this vein, "shampoo", made its debut last week. It shows a man wearing snakeskin boots, relaxing and having his hair washed at a local beauty salon, to the backing track ‘The Beat’ by Lou Johnson.

Marketing caught up with Gwen Ridsdale, the UK marketing manager on the brand, to find out more about the motivation behind "Whatever’s Comfortable".

Why such a radical change for the brand?

The Southern Comfort brand globally wasn’t in the best shape. When you look back, what we’d always done is changed positioning shifting from, "we’re the brand from New Orleans’, to ‘we’re the sociable brand". But as society changes, we realised the brand needed a radical change.

Why did you choose the positioning ‘Whatever’s Comfortable’?

The consumer insight Wieden & Kennedy found the millennials of today are pretty insecure. They’re living at home much longer, they’re not going to get jobs, so they’re really insecure about what’s going to happen to them. Then the other side of it is that they constantly live their lives as if they’re brands on Facebook and Twitter. This can also create more insecurity.

When you have all these other brands telling them, "you’ve got to be rich", "you’ve got be smart", this just creates more angst. Whereas Southern Comfort as a brand, we’ve always been different, we’ve always challenged the norms and through that we came up with the positioning of 2Whatever’s Comfortable".

Were there nerves when you read the script for the first ad and realised it featured a man in Speedos?

Yes there were, there’s no doubt about it. You can imagine, we’re a global brand so we have all the different regions inputting. So you have to trust your agency partners and global team.

Does it work outside of the US and UK markets?

The top 12 markets globally have tested both the "Whatever’s Comfortable" positioning and beach creative. What we found is that globally the consumer insight is true, millennials living in Australia or in South Africa, they’re all in the same boat. The creative execution didn’t necessarily go down too well in some markets.

For example, Australia couldn’t air it because the laws are so strict there that you cannot show alcohol on a beach. The South African consumers just didn’t understand it because it’s a market more driven by status. So Wieden + Kennedy have created more than one creative execution for the markets to use. South Africa has gone with a creative called "dance", which is more upbeat.

How has it affected sales?

The latest Nielsen data shows really strong positive performance in the off-trade, which is encouraging. The brand is still in double-digit decline in the on-trade, but that’s part of the bigger phenomenon of the on-trade’s struggle due to recession. But we are starting to see improvement in that.

What’s next?

The challenge for us is to start taking this amazing positioning based on TV and start bringing it into consumers’ hands at the point of purchase. How do we work the magic of that attitude through the line and across the marketing mix?

The brand had been struggling for a long time, so it’s really liberating to see it coming to life.

Discussion

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now

Latest

Oasis #springasmile digital campaign gets people doing good deeds
Coca-Cola: 'Don't approach bloggers with a fait accompli'
Tesco CMO Matt Atkinson: 'It is so important not to stereotype mothers'
McDonald's gives Ronald a new look ahead of global 'Fun times' social media push
In pictures: BrewDog opens first craft beer shop BottleDog for 'beer aficionados'
Facebook ad revenue leaps $1bn as it invests in targeting
Malteser or Maltesers? Mars takes Hershey trademark dispute to court
Apple Q2 profits top $10bn as iPhone sales soar
Lynx tells men not to leave love to fate
HBO captures awkwardness of watching sex scenes with parents
Primark to open first US stores with Boston chosen as flagship location
Marketing spend on the up but a reality check is needed before celebrating
Top 10 ads of the week: Jackpotjoy and BT Broadband fend off Kevin Bacon
Lidl beats Tesco to 10m Facebook fans
Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers