Boston Beer Launches Truly Hard Seltzer Ads Featuring Comedian Keegan-Michael Key

Boston Beer Company is asking consumers to ditch their old alcoholic beverages and drink what they “Truly want” — hard seltzer.

The company, which makes the Truly Hard Seltzer brand, today unveiled five, 15-second commercials featuring comedian and actor Keegan-Michael Key that are part of a national advertising campaign for the 100-calorie, 5 percent ABV seltzer. Those ads began airing today across television and all digital channels.

“We’ve invested significantly in media, and you’ll see the campaign run across ESPN, Bravo, E!, NFL Network, TBS, Hulu, MTV and Comedy Central,” Boston Beer chief marketing officer Lesya Lysyj told Brewbound today in an email. “Beginning in September, ‘Drink What you Truly Want’ spots will be in every Monday Night Football game on ESPN in addition to SportsCenter for the full season. You’ll also see Keegan-Michael Key in ad content across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.”

The national campaign, among Truly’s first since launching in 2016, is also the brand’s first since Lysyj joined Boston Beer in March after serving as U.S. president of Welch’s Foods Inc.

In the ads, Key attempts to find other uses for beer, wine and spirits — watering a plant with a light beer, using a wine bottle as a candle holder, cleaning tires with vodka, substituting whiskey as lighter fluid, and varnishing a wooden chair with Scotch.

Key not only stars in the commercials, he and his wife and writing partner, Elisa Key, helped “concept, write and develop” them with advertising agency Johannes Leonardo.

“A big reason why we partnered with Keegan is for his creativity and personality, so we wanted to bring as much of that out as possible,” Lysyj said. “We’ve just scratched the surface when it comes to introducing drinkers to Hard Seltzer and we believe his entertaining way of telling a story will help Truly stand out in a meaningful way for both current and future hard seltzer drinkers.”

Boston Beer first teased the campaign during its second-quarter earnings call last month. During the call, Boston Beer CEO Dave Burwick said the company tapped Key to “bring a little bit of personality” to the Truly brand.

“We want to have somebody who is popular, who is well-known and well-regarded, basically talking about our brand in a way that consumers will be very likely to engage and accept that,” he said at the time.

Boston Beer is attempting to capture more current and potential 21- to 45-year-old hard seltzer drinkers in a segment already dominated by Truly and White Claw. White Claw and Boston Beer Company’s Truly Hard Seltzer brand account for 85 percent of total hard seltzer dollar sales year-to-date, according to Caitlyn Battaglia, manager of market research firm Nielsen’s beverage alcohol practice.

Those two brands are leading a hard seltzer segment that is on pace to be a $1 billion industry by the end of 2019, Battaglia shared during a recent Brewers Association Power Hour webinar.

Truly and Twisted Tea both helped drive revenue, shipment and depletion growth of about 17 percent in the second quarter for publicly traded Boston Beer.

Through mid-July, Truly’s Berry mixed pack and variety pack alone have accounted for more than $100 million in retail sales through July 14, according to market research firm IRI. And Truly has helped boost Boston Beer’s off-premise sales 21.7 percent, to more than $576 million, through July 14, according to IRI.

“We see a huge opportunity to grow Truly because, believe it or not, Truly is bigger than major beer brands like Stella Artois and Blue Moon, yet 4 percent of households have purchased hard seltzer,” Lysyj said in a press release.

Boston Beer isn’t the only company looking for a bigger share of the hard seltzer segment.

Brewing giant Anheuser-Busch today announced plans for a nationwide launch of a 6 percent ABV Natural Light Seltzer in two flavors, Aloha Beaches (mango and peach) and Catalina Lime Mixer (black cherry and lime), in 12- and 24-packs as well as 25 oz. single-serve cans. Those packs are expected to be priced about 20 percent less than White Claw and Truly offerings, a spokesperson told Brewbound.

Pabst Brewing Company also issued a press release announcing the rollout of a Pabst Blue Ribbon branded “Stronger Seltzer” starting today in Arizona, California, Montana and Texas. The lime-flavored PBR seltzer checks in at 8 percent ABV and is sweetened with Stevia.

A press release with additional on Boston Beer’s campaign is included after the jump.

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