Southern Comfort is using a mash-up of sponsorship and digital content to promote “ShottaSoCo,” a made-up phrase designed to build awareness and drive sales of the iconic American liqueur.  

The 141-year-old brand is promoting the phrase through a comedy-centric marketing platform. Ties include the Oddball Comedy And Curiosity Festival and a series of digital shorts created in conjunction with Funny or Die, a website that also serves as the festival’s presenting sponsor.

Southern Comfort also is promoting ShottaSoCo through a series of animated shorts produced by Next Media, a Taiwanese animation company.

“The aim of the campaign is to disseminate the word ShottaSoCo into culture in a variety of ways, making it part of the general lexicon and, ultimately, making it stick in people’s heads so the next time they’re about to order a shot, they’ll automatically think of a ShottaSoCo,” said Jennifer Powell, Southern Comfort brand director.

Southern Comfort has used comedy in the past, said Powell, pointing to the brand’s “Beach Guy” and “Karate” TV ads.

“We have always been a funny brand; well, at least we like to hope so. In everything we create, we always try to add a spark of humor.”

The Oddball Comedy Festival supports Southern Comfort’s “Whatever’s Comfortable” brand tagline about owning who you are, said Powell.

“The sponsorship gives us access to an outstanding comedy festival with an amazing roster of comedians who we believe personifies our message of self-comfortableness. Looking at acts like Amy Schumer, she is definitely a believer in owning one’s own awesomeness.”

The marketing campaign comes amid a backdrop of declining sales. Year-over-year dollar sales of Southern Comfort fell 2.8 percent in the week ended Sept. 6, according to IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm.

Dollar sales in the overall whiskey category rose 12 percent in the same period, per IRI.

Southern Comfort is activating the 22-stop comedy festival with the SoCo Zone, an on-site tent that features spin-to-win and other activities. The brand also has created a special drink for the festival, the SoCo Punchline.

Off-site, Southern Comfort is running a text-to-win ticket promotion in local markets. The brand is touting the promo via POS creative and Facebook and Twitter messaging.

Brown-Forman will track festival attendance, SoCo Zone visitors, social media posts and feedback from sales reps to determine success, said Powell.

The Oddball Comedy And Curiosity Festival kicked off Aug. 28 in Kansas City, Mo. and wraps Oct. 18 in Dallas.

Entertainment3sixty sold the sponsorship on behalf of the festival.

The Growing Role Of Digital Content
Digital content plays a key role in Southern Comfort’s marketing strategy. The brand partnered with Funny or Die as a strategic partner in seeding the “ShottaSoCo” phrase.

“Digital now represents 100 percent of our media plan dollars. Digital is the dominant media for our cable-cutting target consumer. We have found digital to be efficient due to our ability to target and talk to the right consumer.”

“Digital enables us to create some different and engaging content that you just can’t really do on TV and other traditional media. Digital works well for Southern Comfort.”

Southern Comfort sponsored the Electric Run nighttime 5K series in 2014; the brand did not renew the partnership for 2015.

Sponsorship Activity In The Whiskey Category
Sponsorship Activity In The Whiskey Category