In an attempt to find yet another way to target the young female demographic, spirits producers have sprung new lines of premixed drinks designed and marketed to associate drinking their products with weight loss. This new trend toward spirits marketed as “low-cal” even has its own industry label: The “Thin-dustry.” This move by the spirits industry marks an obvious attempt to follow in the footsteps of the Big Beer duopoly, where for the past several years MillerCoors and Anheuser Busch InBev have seen success through marketing low-cal and low-carb beer lines targeted to both men and women.
The new sprits “Thin-dustry” is taking a decidedly young, women-focused approach. The poster child for this new class of products is a line called “Skinnygirl Cocktails” – as if that’s what will happen to you if you drink their lower-calorie margaritas. Launched and promoted by Bethenny Frankel, a reality TV star and former ‘Real Housewife of New York City,’ Skinnygirl’s marketing carefully stops just short of claiming the product actually causes weight loss. But that doesn’t stop them from exploiting the physical insecurities of American women for financial gain, by encouraging them to buy a product that will do nothing but harm the very thing they worry about most. The marketing spin for the product is perfectly encapsulated by a toast Bethenny gave in this deleted scene from her reality show that she tweeted to her fans: “Have fun, and don’t get fat and bloated.”
Not surprisingly, the Skinnygirl Cocktail line has been very successful – it was recently acquired by Fortune Brand’s Beam Global Inc. for an estimated $120 million (the fact that Fortune recently split into subsidiaries and could be thinking about entertaining offers for Beam Global makes the Skinnygirl acquisition a particularly strategic move). The Skinnygirl deal involved the promise that Bethenny will stay involved for the sake of “creative control” (read: marketing), a great deal for Beam Global given all the free advertising they get by using a reality TV star, her TV show and profuse media appearances to sell the product. As Bethenny herself said, “I went on the show singlehandedly and exclusively for business.” As reality TV becomes more and more about the marketing of products, we’ll keep our eyes peeled for increasing examples of this insidious (and unregulated) advertising by Big Alcohol.