Cannes Lions

Mike's Hard Lemonade Harder Farmer

WORKINPROGRESS, Boulder / MIKE'S HARD LEMONADE / 2023

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Overview

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Credits

Overview

Background

After two years of not advertising, Mike’s Harder Lemonade had two tough jobs:

1. Get back their groove; the once-beloved brand had ceded both caché and relevance to category newcomers.

2. Launch their newest innovation, Mike’s Harder Half & Half.

The solution? We created the Harder Farmer, an icon that could own an entire category. Inspired by the idea that harder lemonade can only come from harder farmers, we used the character to highlight what makes us different—our obsession with ingredients and our penchant for going all out—in a way our target audience would embrace.

Since our audience loves character-driven worlds—from video games to WWE to Rick and Morty—but hates advertising, it was important that we create a campaign that could genuinely compete with the content they were already consuming. He needed to be memorable and breakthrough, yes. More importantly, he needed to be entirely un-ady.

Execution

To create our Harder Farmer's gritty world, we borrowed inspiration from 1970s grindhouse and action films. Staying true to the genres' low-fi aesthetics, we used practical effects, stunts and props wherever possible, including:

- Working with Argentinian prop builders to create a hand-molded alligator that fit a human inside its belly. Minimal GCI livened up the gator, but the bulk of the effects were practical.

- Using scrappy puppetry and a prosthetic leg to "leg punch" a man with a pitcher of lemonade.

- Dressing a Uruguayan lemon farm with thousands of prop lemons and hand-painted signage.

- Building a custom lemon-picking contraption from a tractor found on set.

In post, we gave the spots a fast-paced, choppy editing style, a grainy, sepia color wash, a custom sting, and hand-drawn type to further connect our world to old action movies.

The overall effect was charmingly low-fi, and hard as hell.

Outcome

The campaign ran online and across social channels and featured the Harder Farmer turning sh*t up to 11 in ridiculous ways, including a first-ever partnership with WWE’s WrestleMania. The custom content and branded entrance delivered over 35mm impressions across four days leading to a 45% increase in purchase intent and a 63% increase in sponsorship recall. This kicked off the Harder Farmer campaign delivering over 1BN impressions and contributing to a 3-point lift in unaided awareness and 5-point Lift in purchase intent. These results were felt in sales leading to a 3.5% increase in Mike's Harder Lemonade sales and contributing to a 2.5% increase in sales for all other Mike's products through their primary distribution channel. Thanks to the Harder Farmer campaign, the launch of Mike’s Harder Half & Half was just as successful, making it the #1 FMB Single Serve Innovation in the U.S. in 2022.

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