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Pathmatics Blog
Food & Bev |


Dry January: How Beverage Brands Are Serving Up Ads

January 24 2022 by Pam Gutierrez
Heineken bottle staged in front of a bar
Heineken bottle staged in front of a bar

One in seven Americans plan to partake in "Dry January", according to several recent surveys. This, along with the fact that January is typically the slowest time of year for alcohol sales, might explain why beverage companies are using Dry January as an opportunity to boost sales.

Let's take a look at how Heineken, Anheuser-Busch, and others are promoting their non-alcoholic options to teetotaling customers: 

Heineken wants to send customers to Hawaii for Dry January

For Heineken, Dry January isn't so much a one-off advertising gimmick but a natural extension of its overall strategy of embracing more non-alcoholic options. Around 10% of Heineken’s $307,300 digital advertising budget has gone toward promoting its Heineken 0.0 alcohol-free beer. 

Five of Heineken’s top creatives so far in January are for Heineken 0.0. The beverage company's biggest spend on a creative this month was $70,300 on an ad promoting a limited-edition “Hawaii Dry-O” pack designed by Hilo native artist Aaron Kai. “Go dry in one of the wettest places on earth,” the inside cover reads. The pack also includes sunglasses, a pair of bluetooth headphones, a water bottle, and a beach towel with one of Kai’s designs. A few packs even include an all-expense paid trip for two to Hawaii. 

For Dry January, Heineken opted for an aggressive push across social media, with 45% of its ad spend on Twitter and 95% across all social platforms. The remaining 5% went toward OTT — something we didn't see from any of the other brands we looked at for this article. 

Conversely, its competitor Anheuser-Busch has spent $620,900 on ads so far this month — of which less than 2% ($9,600) has gone toward the Budweiser Zero brand. Unlike Heineken, Anheuser-Busch opted not to mention Dry January directly in any of its ads — even those for its non-alcoholic beer brand. 

Athletic Brewing Company launches its biggest digital ad campaign yet

Compared to Heineken and Anheuser-Busch, Athletic Brewing Company is much less well-known. However, the brand has made a name for itself among craft beer lovers looking for an alcohol-free alternative to their favorite IPA or Golden Ale. 

Athletic Brewing Company is the top advertiser in the non-alcoholic beer category with over 91% of the total spend for this category in January, which is surprising given its relatively small size. (The second biggest spenders are Heineken and Anheuser-Busch.)

So far in 2022, Athletic Brewing Company has spent $470,700 on digital advertising, putting January on track to be its highest month of spend to date. Facebook was far and away its top channel to advertise on, with 93% of spend going toward the platform.  

Taking a closer look at targeting data for Facebook, we see that ads primarily targeted men, who are about twice as likely to drink craft beer weekly as women, according to the Brewers Association (although it's worth noting those demographics are shifting). Around 15% of Athletic Brewing Company's ads appeared in California, with high spend in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and San Diego. One of Athletic Brewing Company's two breweries is in San Diego, so it makes sense that its ads targeted this region. 

Like Heineken, Athletic Brewing Company also promoted a special Dry January party pack. The 30-pack contains everything you need to celebrate: five different kinds of beer, a camera, a limited-edition koozie, and holographic stickers. Another top creative promotes 25% off the party pack and ends with a call to action to “Stock Up For Dry January”. 

Surely positions itself as the wine brand “for Dry January and beyond”

Like Athletic Brewing Company, Surely seems made for Dry January. The brand offers premium non-alcoholic wine options like Cabernet Sauvignon,  Rosé, and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as a Lemon Ginger and Coconut Passion Fruit spritz. 

The brand’s Dry January campaign positions Surely as the drink “for Dry January and beyond” and tells customers “it’s never too late to start Dry January”. 

Dry January was at the center of seven of its 21 unique creatives this month. The ads direct people to a landing page where they can order the wine with a coupon code for 15% off. In addition, Surely’s website invites visitors to sign up for a Dry January Challenge that provides “helpful Dry Jan tips, access to a private group, giveaways, and exclusive deals right in your inbox”. 

In contrast to the other advertisers we looked at, the brand abstained from social media altogether, instead of devoting 100% of its $389,800 spend toward desktop display ads. Nearly all of these ads appeared on yahoo.com.

Diageo discounts Seedlip non-alcoholic spirits for Dry January

Previously we looked at Diageo as one of the top alcohol advertisers heading into last summer. While the company is perhaps best known for boozy bestsellers like Smirnoff and Crown Royal, in 2016 it expanded its portfolio to include Seedlip — a fashionable brand that touts itself as “the world's first distilled non-alcoholic spirits”.

Compared to other brands in its portfolio, Diageo has devoted a relatively small share (3.4%) of its $3 million dollar budget toward the Seedlip brand so far in January. However, this didn’t stop Diageo from throwing $13,000 into an ad for the booze-free brand, making it one of the top ten creatives so far this month. The ad declares that “Dry January is the perfect time to grab Seedlip non-alcoholic spirits” and offers 20% off all online orders. 

As with the other advertisers we looked at, nearly all of Diageo’s spend has been on social media, with 56% going toward Instagram and 35% on Facebook. 



While you might expect to see a lot of ads for naturally booze-free drinks around Dry January, Pathmatics Explorer data reveals that only Ocean Spray has opted to run a campaign that directly mentions going sober.

The Instagram ad includes five recipes for Dry January mocktails — all made with cranberry juice, naturally. Of course, we’re only halfway through the month, so there’s still plenty of time for other advertisers to get on the wagon. 

In the meantime, schedule your custom insights session to see how your favorite brands or competitors are advertising.

About Author
Pam Gutierrez

After she earned her BS in Business Administration and Marketing, Pam spent time in the non-profit industry developing skills in digital marketing and creating digital content for two years. She then made the transition to content marketing for San Francisco start ups.

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