There’s an unexpectedly hilarious article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the marketing of Sparks, the basically–Red Bull–plus-alcohol beverage from Miller (the company hides its ownership behind Steel Brewing, a Miller subsidiary). Miller is desperate for Generation Y market share, and it sees Sparks, which was originally developed by a beverage marketing firm, as its text-messaged ticket. (It seems unlikely that Sparks will succeed with a more mature demographic: As the drink’s Wikipedia entry notes, “Its critics dislike the high acidity, sweetness, and blatantly artificial flavor. Ironically, fans like the beverage for the same reasons.”)
No one’s wearing clothes in this story: It makes clear just how clueless absolutely everyone is about how to market to Generation Y, that supposedly media-savvy group. Miller isn’t hiring a megacelebrity to win the kids over to Sparks. It’s enlisting William Ocean, the reigning Air Guitar champion of the United States, whose signature move is “a flip through the air that ends with Ocean landing flat on his back and crushing a partially consumed can of Sparks.” (Dude!) The campaign is run by Street Attack, which “calls itself ‘an alternative marketing agency tapped into the pulse of the modern voice and the new social landscape.’” Practically speaking, that means lots of free shit. Here’s a sales rep posting on a Phoenix club board:
‘If you have a party on the horizon, please drop me a line and I can get you some complimentary cases of Sparks. The only thing I need in return is photos of people drinking the product, and I can always drop by and take those. And I need to be able to show that at least 20 people were at the party.’
That last sentence is authentically sad. Also, we need an antibody for viral marketing.