A creative and adaptable approach to partnerships and influencer content marketing on social with a niche, high concept micro-chain of cocktail bars
B.Y.O.C. is a micro-chain of high-concept cocktail bars owned by an independent hospitality SME that runs bars and restaurants. The company’s original bar started as a pop-up in a Soho basement. With its finger on the pulse of the zeitgeist, B.Y.O.C. created a disproportionate media buzz; was cited by the New York Times as the most innovative bar concept of its day.
Following the success of the Soho venture, B.Y.O.C. took on its first permanent space in Camden, London. Thereafter followed a large second site in Brighton’s trendy area around The Lanes and not long after, a basement space in the heart of The City, beneath a restaurant owned by the company.
What makes B.Y.O.C. unique as cocktail bars is that they sell no alcohol, simultaneously circumventing the UK’s strict licensing laws. Rather, patrons book and pay for the attention of a dedicated, skilled mixologist and bring their preferred spirit/s with them (“Bring Your Own Cocktails”, geddit?). Over a booked two-hour session, the mixologist applies his or her magic, mixing up cocktails with fruit (juices), mixers and other ingredients laid on.
Channelling a Prohibition-era atmosphere, resplendent with objets trouvés, quirky 1920s-style furniture and bespoke design—for example bars made from old roulette tables—B.Y.O.C. had immediate appeal to the “experience market” beloved of millennials.
Though performing well, B.Y.O.C. faced a number of challenges. For one thing, the locations and the nature of the business—booked two-hour slots—meant that it could not rely on passing footfall in the way that many bar businesses do. Thus, driving bookings was essential to the lifeblood of the business.
Secondly, while the target millennial-and-younger market loved the experience and were active in sharing it on social media, these generations are also reputedly fickle, often cited by marketing gurus as personifying the death of traditional brand loyalty. So, attracting new patrons and reminding those who had already visited was key.
Furthermore, both of these objectives needed to be achieved on the limited marketing budget of a micro-chain of bars competing with bigger players, many of which had cooperation agreements with alcohol brands with a vested interest in promoting venues in which their products are sold. There was little incentive for brands to work with bars that didn’t sell alcohol. Or, so it might have seemed.
PROJECTile worked more generally on B.Y.O.C. 's marketing, PR and content strategy. But, strong ROI was achieved in the areas of influencer marketing, collaborations and partnerships.
The first aspect of influencer marketing was the most direct and straightforward: PROJECTile researched and made contact with a slew of “micro influencers”, individuals with 2k+ followers reaching the target markets in locations within viable travelling distance of the bars. PROJECTile then negotiated offers to specific micro-influencers and organised that they and their parties were able to experience B.Y.O.C. as part of a staggered content calendar.
Secondly, PROJECTile secured partnerships with relevant brands with their own compatible markets. A good example of this was the partnership with Fiorelli, a long established mid-range accessories brand that has appealed to younger women in the UK for decades. Once derided for its accessories such as handbags made out of faux leather, Fiorelli had shown itself capable of brand agility: it embraced the non-animal nature of its materials to the broad approval of its zennial-millennial target customers.
PROJECTile worked with Fiorelli’s in-house marketing team to develop a campaign that allowed both B.Y.O.C. and Fiorelli social media followers to win a number of prize bookings over a key holiday long weekend for parties of up to six people with, in this case, the spirits being provided by B.Y.O.C. Fiorelli’s creative team worked with PROJECTile to create a new set of assets that paired classic cocktails with their handbag products that were rolled out over both B.Y.O.C. and Fiorelli social channels.
A third category of activity saw PROJECTile engage with alcohol brands, both directly and indirectly. Not natural partners for bars that don’t sell alcohol, a good example of how this was achieved is an influencer-led campaign working with the contracted PR agency of the Jose Cuervo tequila brand in the UK, focussing on a new tequila release that Jose Cuervo hoped would have specific appeal to women interested in cocktail culture, PROJECTile facilitated that influencers already secured by the brand's own PR agency would be accessed to “girls night out” cocktail experiences with the new Jose Cuervo product with original cocktails created by B.Y.O.C.’s talented mixologists.
The story so far…
PROJECTile’s flexible and creative approach to securing influencer-led social media campaigns not only saw a direct uplift in the brand’s own social media engagement, but resulted in access to new bespoke assets, increased bookings, new partners relationships and extending reach on the social channels of partner brands at minimal cost to the brand.