Tito’s vodka spoofs hard seltzer craze by selling empty can

Dive Brief:

  • Tito’s Handmade Vodka is introducing Tito’s in a Can, a 16-ounce reusable steel can that is sold completely empty, per details shared with Marketing Dive. 
  • Consumers are encouraged to fill the empty can with Tito’s and the mixers of their choice. Tito’s in a Can is available for $20 online or at Tito’s retail store in Austin, Texas, with all net proceeds going to the customer’s choice of nonprofit partner.
  • The effort spoofs the growth in hard seltzers and canned cocktails and is being promoted by a 30-second product launch video. The campaign was made in partnership with Arts & Letters Creative Co.

Dive Insight:

Rather than enter the crowded and still growing hard seltzer, hard alternative and ready-to-drink canned cocktail market, Tito’s is releasing a novelty product that returns focus on its core offering. Press materials bemoan liquor store beer aisles that have been “overtaken by slim cans and clear and sparkling liquids” with black cherry and mango flavors. In contrast, consumers can use Tito’s in a Can to get in on the trend while making their own drinks with the ingredients of their choice and Tito’s “vodka-flavored vodka.”

“We developed Tito’s in a Can so Tito’s drinkers can make their own, better-quality seltzers … ones that are fresh, and are as strong or carbonated or citrusy as you want. Because we don’t make seltzers, you do,” said Taylor Berry, vice president of brand marketing for Tito’s.

As with any novelty or spoof product launch, the effort is complemented with a 30-second video that could capture consumer attention and possibly go viral on social media. While the can is a real product available for sale, net proceeds will go to the Tito’s nonprofit partner of the customer’s choice, lending a purpose-driven element to the stunt.

Like other liquor marketers, Tito’s is working to attract consumers — especially younger ones — that have shifted their tastes toward hard seltzers, canned cocktails and the growing market of hard alternatives — single serving, low-ABV beverages that are not beer or soda. The latter category could be growing even beyond seltzers: Boston Beer Company reported sales of its Twisted Tea and Hard Mtn Dew products have helped to offset decreases in core brands, including Truly Hard Seltzer, Angry Orchard, Dogfish Head and Samuel Adams.

The growth of hard seltzers has faced a predictable backlash from competitor marketers. Miller Genuine Draft last year launched a hard seltzer into space to court beer lovers turned off by the trend — despite parent company Molson Coors marketing several such products.

Meanwhile, Tito’s has managed to buck the decline in vodka sales and is among the most popular distilled spirits sold in the U.S. The brand in April celebrating its 25th birthday with an augmented reality feature that taught consumers about the brand’s founding and origin story.