Belgian beer brand Stella Artois started off 2020 as usual, hosting its Port de Stella activation along the Miami River for Super Bowl LIV. The experience, dubbed Port de Stella, featured branded bars, celeb and DJ appearances, and joy rides aboard a 55-foot Van-Dutch yacht.
Fast forward a couple months and the Anheuser-Busch brand was forced to rethink its event marketing strategy and pivot to virtual—but not in the way others did. Instead of focusing on strictly virtual events like livestreams and Zoom calls, Stella Artois devised more intimate, personalized IRL experiences as part of its overarching “The Life Artois” campaign.
“I think consumers are being engaged with all sorts of different types of brands in this virtual setting, and so it can be a very kind of cluttered and almost overwhelming environment,” explained Lara Krug, VP of marketing for Stella Artois. “We were finding a way that we were able to drive scale but also have a level of personalization at a scale that perhaps we weren't able to or hadn’t thought about as much in the past."
Last summer, as part of its “You’re Never Too Far From The Life Artois” campaign, the brand teamed up with Tripadvisor to turn canceled vacations into staycations. Called the “Stella Staycation Swap,” the sweepstakes matched up two travelers who swapped their planned itineraries. One winner from Florida had planned a trip to California that included stops at Disneyland, Rodeo Drive and the Santa Monica Pier, while the other winner from California had planned a trip to Florida with visits to Walt Disney World, Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center and Animal Kingdom. The two swapped their itineraries, allowing each to experience a hometown staycation.
In Sept. 2020, the Hotel Artois @Home “opened,” offering bespoke hotel perks that were delivered to select consumers’ homes. The at-home guests received a minibar stocked with high-end snacks and a custom room service package; a wakeup call from Liev Schreiber; curated activities such as a mixology class, yoga session or caricature portrait session; room service courtesy of Eva Longoria who worked with local chefs to recreate a signature dish; and a virtual one-on-one with Andy Cohen.
Krug explained that promoting a “vacation state of mind” was always part of the brand’s summer marketing plans. “I think that consumers responded really well to it because people were looking for something different, were looking to enjoy themselves, their homes, their friends safely, but wanted to change up the routine of it.”
This year, the brand continues to integrate its messaging into consumers’ daily lives—including the not-so-fun parts.
In March, the brand unveiled a mock financial services company called Stella Mutual, which aims to inspire people to “focus on investing in time together.” Now through April 1, folks can reply to the brand’s Stella Mutual social media posts with #StellaMutual and #Sweepstakes on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Winners will be selected and receive their perks on tax day April 15. Prizes include a $2,500 (the value of the average tax refund); investment tips from Alexis Ohanian; a fridge stocked with Stella Artois plus a year’s supply; and one of the following: a tandem bicycle or pizza kits with ingredients from a New York establishment.
“I think we as a brand have always stood for inspiring consumers to invest in time with the people that they love. And it was just so much more meaningful this year than ever,” Krug said.
She added that, over the course of the last year, the brand has learned “to continue being really thoughtful around what consumers are wanting and engaging with. I think brands have a real purpose and opportunity to provide value to consumers and do things that are appropriate for the times that we're living in.”
This story was originally published on Connect's sister site, BizBash.com, here.