How we burst the hard seltzer bubble and got Buffalo Trace trending on advertising’s biggest day

What we did

Campaign Concept
Content Strategy
Photo / Film Direction
Social Media Strategy
Community Management
Performance Reporting
Social Listening


For now at least, hard seltzer is hot. Like annoyingly hot. There’s a million of them and, in early 2020, word on the street was that Bud Light was going to debut the most high-profile of them all. And they planned on doing it during the Super Bowl no less. That’s practically a holy day for American dudes and some megabrewer was going to spend millions to force feed them fruity fizzy water? Not to mention all the lesser bubble brands who were no doubt hatching similar schemes. It was a “truly” irritating situation. Cheap and easy, hard seltzer is the exact opposite of everything Buffalo Trace and it’s stalwart fanbase stand for. No way were we going to let that kind of audacity go unchecked. The time for talk had passed. Somebody had to take a stand. 


We might not have the multimillion dollar budgets of megabrewers like Anheuser-Busch, but we have something much more powerful: Passion. Buffalo Trace fans love their bourbon like family, and we’ve spent years building vibrant social media communities that celebrate and cultivate their enthusiasm for the flagship brand of the World’s Most Award-Winning Distillery. We know how much they value authenticity and uncompromising craftsmanship. And we were confident that, if circumstances demanded, they’d saddle up and ride against the onslaught of unprincipled hard seltzers. We just had to harness their righteous anger in an organized way.


The solve was beautifully simple. In all likelihood, brands like Bud Light would be spending big bucks to target the exact same demographic that bourbon drinkers fall into. So we’d release Buffalo Trace fans’ untapped animosity toward hard seltzers with a bare-bones Twitter contest designed to turn their “sophisticated” Super Bowl campaigns against them. Just respond to any post—ad, article, whatever—pushing any hard seltzer on Super Bowl Sunday by tagging Buffalo Trace and using #HardSeltzerHardNo and you’d be entered to win a trip to Buffalo Trace Distillery to see how real American spirits are made. Basically, these seltzer brands would unknowingly be paying to bait their own traps. It really wasn’t any more complicated than that. (Ok, we might have encouraged a little friendly trash talking). 


Stampede! Hard seltzers didn’t know what hit ‘em. For next to no money, we got a ton of great user generated content and Buffalo Trace infiltrated Twitter’s Top 20 trending topics on advertising’s biggest day, earning over a million impressions and twice as many positive mentions as our closest competitor. Exposure like that usually comes with a six-figure price tag. Imagining massive metropolitan agencies sweating bullets as their posh campaigns get annihilated by a swarm of bourbon mercenaries? Well, that’s priceless. 

  • Twitter Top 20 trending topic on Super Bowl Sunday
  • 879K – 1.1MM potential impressions (Brand Watch, Brand24)
  • 3,502 #HardSeltzerHardNo mentions
  • 3,226 Buffalo Trace mentions
  • 1,222 new followers
  • 117,641 impressions on owned Twitter Content
  • Over 33K video views
  • 2,254 engagements
  • 97% (approx.) positive/neutral sentiment score
  • 90,483 additional impressions and 4,704 engagements on Facebook and Instagram

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