RTD brand Sway launches with a promise of authenticity

Who: Squeez’d Beverages (a division of Sleeman Breweries), with One Twenty Three West, The Neighbourhood Agency for influencer, and Jungle Media.

What: “Keep it real,” the launch campaign for Sway, a new vodka soda entrant in the exploding ready-to-drink space. The product launched earlier this year in Western Canada, and is expected to be available in B.C., Alberta, Ontario, P.E.I. and Newfoundland & Labrador by summer.

One Twenty Three West also worked with Squeez’d on the product name and package design, also working New York-based illustrator Jeremyville. They had a specific goal of moving away from the more minimalist look adopted by category competitors.

“There are a lot of players, and we knew we had to offer something truly different, both in terms of the product and the way it stood out from the crowd, and we wanted to make sure we were signalling that change,” said Dana Brochu, director of marketing for Squeez’d.

When & Where: The campaign broke last week across TV, YouTube and social, while an influencer component developed by The Neighbourhood Agency features Canadians participating in “Real Talk” chats on social media and making charitable donations towards issues and organizations that matter to them and their community.

Why: It’s about building awareness and driving trial for the brand in a crowded and marketing intensive category, said Brochu. The creative spotlights Sway’s Raspberry Shimmy and Lemon Love flavours, with a particular emphasis on the fact they contain real fruit juice.

What is Sway, anyway? Brochu said using real fruit juice is a key differentiator in the RTD vodka soda space. Sway is formulated to be less sweet but more flavourful than other products in the category, she said.

“The beverage alcohol landscape is changing and consumers are seeking more options, and we need to diversify the portfolio and to continue to meet their needs in different ways,” said Brochu. “We have some insight that many consumers wish there was a little more flavour, so we’re able to give them the best of both worlds.”

How: The campaign is driven by the target audience’s desire for authenticity, and not feeling they need to act a certain way around other people, said Brochu. There are a total of three different creative executions, led by the 30-second spot “Berry Farmers” (which also has a 15-second cutdown) along with “Fruit or Veggie,” and “Love This Song.”

Each execution features two Sway drinkers being real with each other, admitting they’re unsure of the difference between a fruit or vegetable, for example, or that they don’t know the lyrics to a song they profess to love.

“They’re moments people can relate to, a laugh or an odd conversation you have with your friends,” said Brochu. All of the spots feature a laid-back summer vibe. “It really aligns nicely with what the drink has to offer, and what people are looking for during those occasions.”

And we quote: “It’s very rare you get the opportunity to build a brand from stem to stern with a partner, and we think it’s really worked in all our favours. We really stayed true from the initial strategy to the ad campaign, and we’re really proud of the work One Twenty Three West did with us.” — Dana Brochu, director of marketing, Squeez’d Beverages

Chris Powell