You’ve got Christmas sewn up – but what about the New Year? While the world at large is going about convincing itself that January is a time of new beginnings, new approaches and new mindsets (as opposed to excess-induced guilt, drudgery and seasonal affective disorder), it’s basically time for the drinks biz to sit on its hands, right?

Well, if that’s starting a little cynically for you, fear not – because this post is all about how Dry January can be a ray of winter sunshine in the alcohol marketer’s life (and vice versa, believe it or not).

There are any number of ways in which the issue is rather more complex than turkeys voting for Christmas; so here are just a few reasons why people not drinking booze can be a good thing for the alcohol industry (and how alcohol marketers can help)…


Ye could put a goldfish in that and it wouldn’t even die. – Mitchell and Webb


Reset, reconsider, refresh – that’s what we’re told January is all about. At least, that’s very possibly how your customers see it.

Of course, the traditional view of January is as a bit of downtime in live campaign activity so you can cook up the next few months. So may I suggest to…

…live in the now, man.

Follow the general public’s example and view it as a chance to reconsider your approach – whether that’s strategy, approach, values, messaging; your audience is probably more receptive to change than ever, so if you’re thinking about any kind of repositioning activity, the New Year could be the time.


The cliché surrounding Dry January is well-worn: a month of self-flagellating abstinence followed by an immediate spiral into excess and return to self-loathing that only hair of the dog will cure.

As with any cliché, there’s some truth to it, but, as I posited last month, the mindset it’s predicated on may be dwindling. The jury is still out on whether Dry January itself has long-term benefits, but the culture of excess that implies the big month’s necessity is losing its force.

Quality is increasingly trumping quantity in the booze market – and the conversation around Dry January 2019 is likely to reflect that. Keep close tabs on what’s being said and how Dry Jan plays out; it could give you some invaluable audience insights.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash


With that in mind, the coming year, perhaps more than any before, is going to be about building sustainability into alcohol marketing strategies.

There are no two ways about it – 2019 is already showing some real promise at turning out to be an absolute shitter of a year. Sorry – didn’t quite leave the cynicism in paragraph 1. Well, it’s not Christmas yet.


Just to be absolutely clear, I do not mean ‘market your non-alcoholic beer’.

Actually get involved in Dry January. Take part in it. Talk about it. Create content about it. I have yet to see an alcohol brand really go all-in on Dry January. Now, that’s for the very obvious reason that it has immense potential to blow up in your face spectacularly.

As an alcohol brand, embracing Dry January is probably less sticking your neck out than it is building the guillotine in a very public place and handing the release mechanism to the nearest psychopath.

A crass marketing-led approach to embracing Dry January is, of course, doomed to fail in a way that would make Pepsi and Kendall Jenner look like Cannes Lion contenders. No one wants to be the brand that gets destroyed for trying to cash in on Dry January.

📷 – Teen Vogue

Don’t do that. Obviously.

Instead, be authentic. Actually care about it. Come up with some ways you can contribute by tackling head-on the problems that make Dry January such a big deal. Address their root causes. Naturally you need a very (and I mean very) well-thought-out comms plans in place to even think about getting involved, but it is doable. And if you do it right, by being a truly responsible alcohol brand with a positive message, your positivity will very likely come back at you in spades.


Elton John is bloody everywhere this November, so permit me a crude comparison between the circular nature of life that he brought our attention to in such glorious transatlantic pub singer fashion, and that of this very article. I am, of course, returning to the idea of re-positioning.

January is a time to rethink about what you stand for as a purveyor of booze. Sure, you could be the brand that’s there waiting eagerly at the saloon door to 1st February with a beer bong to slosh as much piss as you can down the gullets of the thirsty masses. But, in short, that’s not a great look. Dry January 2019 is only going to increase the volume and the breadth of the discussion around alcohol consumption, and the industry will do well to have ready answers and something sensible to say. Now’s the time to plan.



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