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By Kenneth Hein | Editor

May 23, 2022 | 4 min read

As hard seltzer sales cool, canned cocktail leader High Noon is scorching. To keep interest in its vodka-based beverages high, the brand is upping its marketing investment and innovation efforts, as well as launching its own line of swim trunks. Here’s what you need to know.

It’s high noon in the canned cocktail category. Ready-to-drink spirits are quickly becoming the summer drink du jour as hard seltzer sales soften. High Noon, which offers juice- and vodka-based concoctions, is currently the clear category leader with 27% share, per Beer Marketers’ Insights. The Anheuser-Busch-owned Cutwater is a strong No 2 with 14% of the category. And there are many, many imitators set to enter the category.

That’s why High Noon has invested “more than ever before” in the brand, which is the fastest-growing in the spirits category. When clumped among hard seltzers (where drinks are malt- or sugar-based), High Noon is neck-and-neck with Topo Chico for fourth place behind White Claw, Truly and Bud Light Seltzer.

At the core of its marketing is its ‘Sun’s Up’ message. In each execution, an optimistic blessing of sorts is bestowed upon the customer. A sage Sam Elliott-style narrator decrees, in a new 60-second spot debuting this summer, “May your day be sunny. May you wake up before your alarm clock – all 12 of them. May everyone respond to your group text – even Derrick, who never has his phone with him. May watching all of those barbeque tutorials actually pay off... and may the most stellar of days shine upon you.” Preacher is the agency behind the work.

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The strategy is to encourage our consumers “to live like the sun is always out,” says Brandon Lieb, vice-president of spirit at Gallo. “It is about developing a mindset or vibe for the brand that resonates with the audience. Think friend-fueled occasions at a lake, in a hot tub and at a golf course, all while highlighting High Noon as the perfect daytime drink.”

The brand is also not shy about selling consumers on switching from White Claw and others. In the spot ‘May any lake day be a great lake day,’ our narrator’s toast includes: “May you ditch malt-based hard beverages for one with real vodka and real juice.”

The Gallo-owned beverage has succeeded in convincing its twenty-something target audience to trade up from hard seltzers, according to David Steinman, executive editor, Beer Marketers’ Insights. “High Noon continues to grow strong double digits after years of triple digits while hard seltzer is slowing down and declining.”

That’s why there is an incoming onslaught of competitors including Truly Vodka Seltzer and Anheuser-Busch’s Nütrl Vodka Seltzer. “All of the larger spirits companies are putting energy behind it [as well],” says Steinman. “Vodka-based, tequila-based, everyone is coming at it because it’s the fastest-growing segment in alcohol.”

Much like with hard seltzer, the canned cocktail segment is a flavors game. Aware of this fact, High Noon is firing up its innovation engine. It has rolled out its ‘Pool Pack,’ which has new guava and kiwi flavors.

Building off of the popularity of bigger packaging, it has launched a 700ml resealable can. And it’s even got a new swimsuit collaboration with Tropical Bros.

It is providing air cover for it all, with TV ads running on broadcast, streaming platforms and social media, accompanied by out-of-home (OOH) ads, search and public relations efforts.

“We’ve seen a lot of incredible growth over the last few years and as the category expands and new competitors enter, we think there is a huge opportunity for High Noon to continue to cement its place as the premium option within the segment,” says Lieb. “Our marketing efforts will be more important than ever to break through with consumers, and we’ve invested more in our marketing budget than we ever have before. We have a lot of great things on the horizon and we are just getting started.”

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