Beer being poured from a tap

How Challenger Beer, Wine and Spirits Brands Can Compete Using Experiential Marketing Tools

The beer, wine and spirits industry is evolving. There is a consumer trend toward premiumization in spirits, more consumers are drinking wine for its diverse flavor profiles and there’s a shift toward higher-quality beers, which has stimulated growth among craft brewers.

In fact, Eugene Kashper, the millionaire owner of Pabst Brewing Company, believes the beer category will continue to shift away from mainstream lagers and be dominated by super-premium, craft, cider, flavored malt beverages and import beers — categories that will make up 70 percent of sales by 2025 by his projections.

For years, Goliaths such as Anheuser-Busch InBev, Constellation Brands, and Brown-Forman have led the industry leveraging their massive advertising budgets. But, with consumer palettes continuing to change, there’s now an opportunity for challenger beer, wine, and spirits brands to take market share.

To compete, though, challenger brands must outthink rather than outspend these category dominators. The success of a challenger brand’s marketing is about creating passion through advocacy and activation, not ad spend.

Challenger beer, wine, and spirits brands are increasingly turning to experiential to make a deeper connection with consumers. Once an afterthought to traditional advertising, events are now a cornerstone of many marketing plans. In fact, experiential and event marketing budgets increased by 6.1% in 2015 according to the EventTrack 2015 report.

In an increasingly digital world, experiential activations are providing consumers a full sensory experience including the opportunity to taste, smell and play with brands — in person. Live, face-to-face, events are being used to gain visibility, entertain and educate. These activations create an emotionalconnection to a brand that cannot be duplicated with mass advertising.

From these events, enthusiastic customers develop a personal link to their favorite beer, wine and spirits brands. They take to social media as an outlet to express their knowledge and passion. This drives word-of-mouth, which

Millennials rank as the number one influencer in their purchasing decisions about packaged goods.

Furthermore, 84% of consumers say that they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations from family, colleagues, and friends about products and services – making these recommendations the highest ranked source for trustworthiness according to Nielsen.

Where Should Challenger Brands Start?

  1. Research – Focus on brand, demographics, competitors, trends and marketing theory/tactics.
  2. Imagination – Ideate the visuals, sound, fragrance, interactivity and taste possibilities.
  3. Strategy – Build an in-depth strategy that keeps ideas effective before, during and after the event, both live and digitally.
  4. Fabricate – Design, build, and customize elements to meet the needs of the project.
  5. Creation – Bring the strategy to life in an immersive activation.

With the right experiential strategy and execution, challenger beer, wine,   and spirits brands can use events to develop brand advocates and leverage social media for unprecedented reach. Experiential is the fire and social media is the fuel that will allow these challenger brands to unseat the incumbents.

Can your brand utilize experiential marketing?

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Bud Light neon sign

Case Study: Bud Light House of Whatever Activation


In the height their “Up for Whatever” or “Summer Bucketlist” campaign, Bud Light wanted to continue its momentum of engaging and building loyalty among the Millennial market. The summer was almost over, but it came to Bud Light’s message, the party wasn’t over yet. Bud Light hit the musical festival circuit and fabricated its own specialty viewing area, ‘House of Whatever’ within TomorrowWorld campground. The challenge was to develop an experiential strategy that would engage and excite Bud Light consumers by creating sharable moments at a major music festival while cutting through the clutter of an already crowded experience.


Bud Light had extreme success with the Up For Whatever campaign for the last few years. In 2015, they decided to extend the campaign to music festivals. The music festival industry has skyrocketed, so choosing the correct festival with the right demographic that aligned with Bud Lights message was no easy task. After conducting extensive research, they choose TomorrowWorld in Atlanta,Georgia. With around 160,000 attendees over three days, Bud Light looked to cut through the clutter of traditional festival marketing. When consumers are there for the music experience, grabbing their attention away from it needs to be relevant, authentic and exciting. Thus, the Bud Light House of Whatever was custom fabricated to not just market to consumers, Bud Light wanted to elevate their overall TomorrowWorld experience.

To help Bud Light build excitement and attract attendees to the House of Whatever, The Pineapple Agency created and executed three activations that were unique, immersive and could relate to festivalgoers lifestyle. Though we didn’t create or physical fabricate the House of Whatever, The Pineapple Agency teamed up with Bud Light to create the attendee experience at the House of Whatever to be a memorable and share-worthy experience.


Bud Light enhanced the TomorrowWorld journey for its fans throughout the festival, from a main stage-viewing platform to the Bud Light Camp of Whatever in Dreamville. Bud Light even created six custom TomorrowWorld Beer cans' – designed by TomorrowWorld artists, which correspond with the festivals fairytale theme. The cans were an absolute hit and sold out at the festival.

The Pineapple Agency wanted to create an overall experience within the House of Whatever, to bring fans in and keep them engaged. Because of our agency background in creating and producing major music festivals, we had a great understanding of the demographic and how to engage them. With just a few weeks to create, plan and prep for one of the largest music festivals in the country, we jumped into the festival experience to create something unique and relevant.

The Pineapple Agency strategized and implemented various activations to meet the objectives of the overall experience. The Pineapple Agency created Totem Poles for fans to bring to life. Attendees of music festivals often build custom made totem poles that represent their groups or themselves personality. You often see funny, scary or even politically charged creations. In many cases, the totems are photographed or videoed by fans and press and one of the first things you recognize in the photo or video. The idea to allow fans to build custom Bud Light branded totem poles was a perfect choice. The Pineapple Agency created an assortment of unique totem accessories, enough to make over 2,000 totems. By the second day of limited hours of operation, all 2,000 totems were created and being used around the festival property. Another experience The Pineapple Agency curated was a Creative Lounge. We wanted to create a place where festival attendees could relax and refresh before their next venture around the more than 1,200 acres of festival land. We created an area where they could get free massages, professional makeup artists and body refreshing products. If the attendee chose, they could also have a professional face painter create a magical creation that all their friends would envy.

  • 3 Day Music Festival – Grossed 94 Million, 160,000+ Attendees
  • 3,000+ interactions
  • 100% Fan Engagement
  • Custom Beer Can Sell out

See how The Pineapple Agency can help you out with your next activation!

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Group hiking in the mountains

Best Experiential Activations of 2015

As we embark on the fourth quarter of 2015, we would like to look back at our favorite unique, extravagant, and immersive experiential activations of the year. We’ve seen giant companies like Bud Light and McDonald’s continue to flex their experiential muscle, as usual, but we’ve also seen a lot of other up and coming companies utilizing experiential to gain market share and create a buzz. We’ve followed along with the experiential trends anywhere from promotional mobile tours, to pop-up shops, to full-blown music festivals, and compiled a list of our four favorite activations, in no particular order:

Panda Express – Food Truck Tour

For decades Panda Express’ most popular dish has been the infamous orange chicken. Even despite the popularity of the delicious chicken, Panda Express decided to gain even more momentum for its brand and thus the #OrangeChickenLove Food Truck Tour was born. From early August till the end of the September the orange chicken food truck embarked on a cross-country 8-city tour handing out free orange chicken and rice samples to all visitors along the eight stops. Along with free food samples, orange chicken loving brand ambassadors snapped pictures of guests, shared posts on social media, and guided guests to play several interactive games to win more prizes.

Panda Express Food Truck

Gotham/Fox – Gotham Zip Line

Fox Entertainment wanted to go out with a BANG to advertise for “Gotham,” the new Batman-inspired crime TV series that was released in early 2015. To create hype for the release of the new show, Fox went out to San Diego’s 45th Comic-Con to give a real-life superhero experience to all Comic-Con guests. Through a realistic Gotham City skyline, fans were able to zip-line above buildings, acting as if they were soaring through the sky, on their way to fight crime. The zip-line experience created an immediate adrenaline rush, and those willing to soar through the skies received a memorable photo and a free Gotham t-shirt. To further promote the show over the Comic-Con festival, Fox partnered up with Uber for an advertising promotion that would gain considerable exposure throughout San Diego. Comic-Con goers, who also had Uber, could open up the Uber app and select Gotham PD under the slider to reserve the ride. When the Uber drivers pulled up, fans were immediately surprised as they would be getting free Uber rides in custom, antique style Gotham Police cars. Overall, the activation was an astounding success, resulting in over 6,000 fans soaring through the sky on the zip-line experience and thousands of additional impressions through the Gotham-Uber experience.

Gotham Zip Line
FOX FANFARE AT SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON © 2014: The GOTHAM Interactive Fun Zone at Bayfront Park in San Diego on Thursday, July 24. CR: Alan Hess/FOX © 2014 FOX BROADCASTING

Nike – Pop-up Shoebox

Back in February Nike released its new smartphone app, SNKRS, that allowed consumers to design and customize their own Nike shoes and then purchase and pickup their creation at their local Nike store. To generate buzz for the SNKRS app Nike needed to create a unique and Nike-style activation that would blow consumers’ minds. Within the first few weeks of the app launch, giant Nike shoeboxes started popping up in Los Angeles and New York City. The giant pop-up shoebox store was a completely customer retail store featuring LED exterior walls that mimicked the iconic Nike shoebox design. Inside the store was a very modern retail environment with iPads, TVs, and store fixtures showcasing Nike’s newest shoe releases. Nike employees in the store helped guests use the SNKRS app and showed customers how they could design their sneakers and then share their creation via social media. For true shoe enthusiasts that wanted to purchase shoes, they could design custom sneakers (Air Force 1, Air Max, Foamposite, or Air Jordan’s) and then have the shoes delivered to them in-store through a custom sneaker vending machine. The giant shoebox pop-up store was only in New York City for a week, but it generated thousands of impressions, both for the store and the new app, as well as hundreds of on-site sales.

Upslope Beer – Oktoberfest Lager Release

Colorado craft beer brand, Upslope, was releasing their newest Oktoberfest Lager and they needed a unique way to showcase the beer, the brand, and the numerous connections to Colorado. To position the brand as an after-adventure cold beer reward, they crafted the Backcountry Tap Room, consisting of a hiking, food, beer, and music experience in Winter Park, Colorado. Beer enthusiasts took a 2.3 mile hike through Winter Park to get to the end of the High Lonesome Trail, where a rustic environment was created with a custom bar, tree stump seating, outdoor games, and free beer. Hundreds of Upslope beer fans joined in on the experience to try the new Oktoberfest Lager and those who posted pictures of themselves on social media using the #ApresEverything tag at the event were entered into a contest to win free beer for the year.


Plan your next activation!

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Stadium filled with sports fans

Activating Your Brand with Sports and Experiential

In recent years, brands have started placing higher importance on creating activations that center around sporting events throughout the world. Brands such as Bud Light and Microsoft have utilized sponsorships and experiential activations to tap into a specifically targeted market of consumers who are extremely loyal to certain sports leagues, teams, and players, ultimately resulting in the perfect opportunity to connect a brand with a sporting event that the audience is already passionate about. Bud Light’s Up For Whatever, which is heavily marketed during the NFL season, and Microsoft’s extreme sports Dew Tour capitalize on creating memorable connections between their brand and the consumers at these events, ultimately resulting in brand loyalty and repeat purchasing. These and many other brands are starting to see why experiential marketing is the perfect gateway for a company to seamlessly introduce their brand into the sporting event, which can enhance the consumer experience and create meaningful brand associations, if done correctly.

Heineken, one of the world’s largest beverage companies, has started mapping out its experiential strategy for the remainder of 2015, implementing a specific engagement strategy targeted around the 2015 Rugby World Cup taking place at Twickenham in England. Throughout the Rugby World Cup (RWC), Heineken will activate over 5,000 Heineken RWC Clubhouses throughout Australia, which serve as unique watch parties where rugby fans can watch the matches, participate in Heineken promotions, and ultimately earn a chance to win tickets to the Rugby World Cup Final in England.

Heineken will enhance the on-site experience through offering their own original digital content from the Heineken Rugby Studio, featuring interviews and commentary from the Heineken rugby legends Jonah Lomu and Rocky Elsom, along with other rugby legends from Australia, England, Ireland, and South Africa. Heineken wants to expand its reach past the 5,000 on-site activations, so they will also be introducing a limited edition 1st XV can pack, featuring the the iconic Heineken branding mixed with the beauty of the prestigious Rugby World Cup William Webb Ellis cup, which fans will be able to purchase from select bars and liquor stores. Accompanying the limited edition can is an enhanced website dedicated solely to the Rugby World Cup, offering fans an opportunity to connect with each other via social media, watch the engaging content from the Heineken Rugby Studio, and locate bars or ‘Heineken Fanzones’ where fans can watch the match and enjoy a Heineken.

The magic behind Heineken’s activation is that they are not only sponsoring thousands of events and enhancing the fan experience, they are doing it in a way that is authentic and real. By creating their own original content, Heineken is able to create associations between the beer brand and the Rugby World Cup with the hope of enticing fans to try out the beer and make their rugby watching experience more exciting than ever before. Heineken is using experiential marketing in a unique and genuine way that encompasses in-person, digital, and social experiences, allowing the company to reach hundreds of thousands of rugby fans throughout Australia and the rest of the world.

Learn more about Experiential Marketing.

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Astroglide pride parade

Are Your Brand Ambassadors Losing You Money?


Brands spend small fortunes and dedicate countless man-hours to make sure that they are represented professionally to their customers. Just like your logo, your collateral, and your product, the people you hire to staff an activation play a huge role in how people perceive your brand, and whether they want to buy your product or service.

Think about it: When you go into an Apple store, you are immediately greeted by a friendly, knowledgeable, and approachable Apple employee. These “geniuses” are there to answer any and all of your questions (no matter how stupid) and to get you jazzed about the latest and greatest Apple products. Rest assured: everything about the “genius” is designed to welcome and disarm you, all the way down to their everyman’s wardrobe of ripped jeans, an Apple t-shirt, and a baseball cap. Creating an attentive, yet easy-going customer service experience has been crucial to Apple’s success, and they carefully select and monitor each of their employees to ensure that Apple is being represented in a consistent manner each time a brand-consumer interaction takes place.

The people promoting your product or service can make you or break you when a customer is making that crucial decision between your company and another company. During a face-to-face experiential interaction, the people that represent your brand create a first impression and help to establish and ultimately build relationships with your most valued customers.

That’s why at The Pineapple Agency we take the time to carefully and strategically vet all of the staff that will assist in our client’s activations. Through the years, we’ve established a few fundamentals to consider when selecting the right staff:

Industry/Product Knowledge

For Exede Internet, we wanted tech savvy ambassadors who could learn about the client’s internet service and be comfortable speaking to individuals with varying degrees of computer and internet literacy.

Brand Lifestyle, Values, and Demographic

With Astroglide, we carefully selected brand ambassadors that lived the ‘get freaky’ lifestyle and that were relatable (in terms of age, personal preferences, and cultural diversity) with the parade attendees and the brand’s target audience.


The Sphero Gum Ball activation represented a unique challenge with an unknown product to many guests at the Mall of America, therefore it was critical for us to find staff that would work well together and create an engaging experience to go out into the crowds, wrangle people in, and give them a hands-on trial with the Sphero ball.


Wherever possible, finding people that already use our client’s product/service and love the brand are the best candidates, as they are already sharing their experiences and want to spread the love to all the attendees at the event.

Just imagine if Apple had rude, unknowledgeable, and disinterested employees working in their stores. Most likely they would lose customers, even if the products stayed the exact same. That personal connection is critical and can even help convert potential customers who are on the fence about making a purchasing decision.

So the next time you’re looking to staff a live, in-person experience come chat with The Pineapple Agency and let us help you find the perfect staff to help activate your brand! We make it our business to understand the intricacies of your brand and align that with a perfectly selected group of staff who are able to promote the brand, educate the desired audience, and create a strong, emotional connection with your brand during the activation.

Want to learn more about experiential marketing?

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Taking Your Brand on an Experiential Mobile Tour

Exede booth with giveaways and spin to win wheel

Taking Your Brand on an Experiential Mobile Tour

Brands and companies are always looking for new or better ways to engage with their desired target markets. Currently, many brands are using digital (social media, video, SEO, etc.) and traditional (TV, radio, billboards, door-to-door, etc.) strategies to interact with their audience. While these strategies are an important part of any healthy marketing campaign, too many brands are overlooking the opportunity of a mobile tour, utilizing a mix of both digital and traditional strategies to enhance the in-person experience at each stop on the road.

Mobile tours are great for a number of reasons, but we especially like them because they’re cost effective, and they give brands the opportunity to be present where their target demographic actually lives, works, and plays. Mobile tours are also a unique way to showcase brand personality through bringing products and/or services to life in a way that cuts through all of the clutter created by digital and traditional marketing strategies. By having a live, in-person experience, a consumer can establish a deeper emotional connection with your brand. An in-person experience allows your target market to test out your product or service, which is something they cannot typically do with any other marketing strategy. Mobile tours also lend themselves well to word-of-mouth marketing, which helps your brand gain buzz at an event, and ultimately allows you to reach an even larger audience through social media.

Integration with Existing Strategies

When embarking on a mobile tour, we educate our clients on the importance of integrating the tour with the rest of their existing marketing strategies. An existing social media strategy can be enhanced with new content generated from the stops along the mobile tour, and the company’s existing social media channels can also help to drive traffic to activations. Buying print, radio, and other media can also supplement the mobile tour and drive traffic to your activation.

Possible Tour Elements

There are several elements that can be added to a mobile tour campaign to increase the number of impressions and create a unique and engaging experience for your target demographic.

  • Mobile vehicles are the cornerstone of any mobile tour, and can be fully customized to meet the needs of the brand and activation. Driving a vehicle cross-country with a custom wrap is a surefire way to generate thousands of impressions.
  • Street teams add an additional in-person element to an activation, and act as a personal extension of the brand. Street teams bring further energy and enthusiasm to your brand’s products/services.
  • Kiosks offer a chance to test out or learn about a product or service and can attract the audience in a meaningful way through interactive touch screens or engaging video reels.
  • Pop-up shops are an excellent way to sell products/services during a mobile tour, and can be supplemented through traditional or social media campaigns.

Want to find out more about how we help brands take off through the use of experiential mobile tours?

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