High Brew Coffee is wasting no time using sponsorship to promote its new line of ready-to-drink cold-brew beverages.

Since launching the product in March at the Natural Products Expo West trade show,  the Austin, Texas-based company has assembled a sponsorship portfolio ranging from high-profile music festivals to yoga festivals and food events.     

Ties include the Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits music festivals, Houston Beer Fest and Wanderlust yoga festivals.

David Smith, High Brew co-founder, is no stranger to sponsorship. The co-founder of the Sweet Leaf Tea Co. sponsored Lollapalooza and other events on behalf of the RTD tea prior to selling the company to Nestlé Waters in 2011.

Answering questions via email, Smith discusses the thinking behind High Brew Coffee, the role of sponsorship in promoting the product, and other topics.

Below are edited excerpts from his comments.

On using sponsorship to engage consumers and build a buzz
Since we cold brew our coffee the resulting taste is bolder, not bitter, because there isn’t any heat applied to the water during the brewing process.  And even though all of our flavors are 60 calories or less, we do not sacrifice any flavor.

We have learned that when you have a product where taste is your best attribute, it is crucial, especially in the early years, to get as many people to sample it as possible.

Radio, TV and billboards can help build awareness but they don’t let consumers try the product. Those marketing channels works best when the brand is more developed and consumers already know what it tastes like. So we seek out events with large crowds that are aligned with our brand strategy. This provides us with a captive audience and a memorable experience that they will recall when they see High Brew in the future. It is basically where the love affair begins!

High Brew's Target Audience

On using sponsorship to optimize the consumer experience
The core principle behind High Brew is to help people get out there and do something!  We partner with events where we can help people not only get through their day but optimize it; help them do whatever it is they are passionate about better.  

Elizabeth (my wife and co-founder) and I founded High Brew while living out a lifelong dream on our sailboat home-schooling our children throughout the Caribbean.  Cold-brewed iced coffee gave us the natural energy needed to captain our boat while providing a refreshing beverage in the constant heat. We had recently sold our previous company and wanted to take a break and unwind.  Eight months later we were back in Austin looking to do it all over again.  High Brew is a cold-brew for those who do and we strive to find all types of events to help champion this belief.

How High Brew activates sponsorship
On-site we work hard to make the product available at as many outlets as possible. We like to have our products sold at all areas that sell other beverages.  

We also donate product to performers, artists, speakers, VIP areas, etc. We look for other events that are off-site but still working in conjunction with the event to donate more product and strengthen our partnership with the promoters. A good example of this is at this year’s Lollapalooza in Chicago. We will donate product to Shepard Fairey's exhibit called The Provocateurs where 25 renowned contemporary artists will exhibit for five days at the nearby Block Thirty Seven.

We also activate sponsorship with displays at nearby retailers where consumers can win tickets to the events we sponsor.  And we engage heavily with consumer give-a-ways on our social media platforms.