When Cucumbers Fly: How One Brand’s Marketing Strategy Relies on the Eccentric

Social Media Analytics Measure Audience Interest and Affinities

When winter temperatures are long forgotten and spring showers give way to clear summer skies, many consumers look forward to their favorite outdoor activities. Whether they are enjoying some fresh air in their neighborhood park or buying tickets for their favorite sporting event, food is often an important part of the experience. This is especially important for foodies who are searching for the best recipes and ingredients to maximize their outdoor dining experience.
Hendrick’s Gin hopes to take advantage of this seasonal trend with a unique marketing campaign. On April 13th, Hendrick’s launched a cucumber airship in Los Angeles. Over the course of several months, the airship will travel to 12 other cities across the United States. In addition to getting viewers to engage in the #cucumberchallenge by tweeting or instagraming photos of the airship, the over-the-top marketing campaign will also be accompanied by brand parties and dinners.

The Cucumber design is inspired by the “infusion of rose and cucumber” that separates Hendrick’s Gin from competitors. The brand has built a image that accentuates their product’s unique flavor by incorporating particularity and glamour into their brand identity through all of their advertising and marketing efforts. What is the return on investment of flying a cucumber airship across the United States? Does the hype outweigh more traditional forms of advertising?
Since the campaign began, roughly 5k Tweets have been written about Hendrick’s and the conversation is overwhelmingly positive (29%) with only 2% of conversation being categorized as negative by ForSight’s Auto Sentiment analysis. In addition to generating positive conversation, top hashtags #cucumberchallenge (570+) and #flyingcucumber (540+) also suggest that the campaign is a success.
While there is no doubt that the #flyingcucumber has had a positive effect on the Hendrick’s conversation, more in-depth social media analytics highlight alternative campaigns that may have generated a greater ROI. For instance, looking at Affinities, it appears as though a more culinary-specific campaign may have stimulated even greater conversation. The Hendrick’s audience is 55 times more interested in scotch and spirits, 49 times more interested in bourbon, and 26 times more interested in wine than the general Twitter audience. Similarly, they are 127 times more interested in chefs, 55 times more interested in food trucks, 48 times more interested in the Food Network.
An interest in food and drink is also seen when looking at @Hendricksgin’s most popular Tweets. Although Tweets discussing the airship have all earned Replies and Retweets, many of the most popular Tweets contain simple cocktail instructions. 

What both of these topics have in common is Hendrick’s trademark style. It can be seen on Hendrick’s distinctive packaging, website, Twitter profile, and Tweets. In fact, it can also be seen in customers’ homes, on the bar and even on desks and nightstands. On April 1st over 2k Tweets were written about an innovative DIY project—a Hendrick’s lamp. The conversation originated with a Tweet authored by @CraftPromoter that was retweeted over 2k times by people excited about how they could put empty Hendrick’s bottles to good use.
While the Hendrick’s airship has contributed to a very positive brand conversation, social media analytics suggest that a more culinary-specific campaign may provide even greater returns. The audience is interested in food and drinks and social media provides the perfect venue for getting customers engaged in conversation. What we learn from current and potential marketing campaigns is that Hendrick’s has constructed a strong brand identity. With unique advertising, it seems as though they have built customer loyalty, for the product and even the packaging.

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