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Southern Comfort Adopts Live Shark to Give #Sharktender Campaign Extra Bite

  |  August 15, 2014   |  Comments

The recipe for Southern Comfort’s Shark Week digital cocktail includes a live shark, as well as tracking, tweeting, and interactive video, stirred.

Liquor brand Southern Comfort has upped the branded Shark Week ante by adopting a real shark that has been christened the "Sharktender" and will "tweet" on the brand's behalf - all while being tracked online by satellite.

The annual Discovery Channel shark-themed television event runs from August 10 to 16. And, as 2.6 million tweets and 11 worldwide Twitter trending topics for Shark Week 2013 demonstrated - and 3.9 million Sharknado 2 viewers reaffirmed on July 30 on Syfy - interest in sharks among consumers remains strong.

But will the addition of a live shark be enough to create a memorable campaign that distinguishes Southern Comfort from the other brands already producing shark-themed content?

Southern Comfort's Sharktender, who calls himself the "bartender of the ocean," went live August 13. The site includes a map with the shark's geographic coordinates, as well as his mood, and the weather, wind gusts, and tide at his location.

According to a Southern Comfort rep, the plan is for the shark to tweet several times a day based on his location and movements.

Indeed, the Sharktender has tweeted several messages and offered a few drink recommendations as of August 14, including, "#Sharktender FYI - Mermaids do exist, but they're very lazy and just sing all day. #annoying," and "#Zombiesharks? Great. #sleepingwithmyeyesopen #sharkweek #sharktender," with links to the Sharktender's page on the Southern Comfort website.

According to the rep, the Sharktender is in fact a real shark the brand is tracking thanks in part to satellite tagging data from the University of Miami R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program. The Dunlap website says the program offers hammerhead, tiger, and bull sharks for adoption for $2,500, which covers the cost of one satellite tag. In return, adoptive parents are given the opportunity to name the shark and follow his/her movements using an interactive Google Earth map.

The Sharktender is a tiger shark, the rep adds.

Per National Geographic, tiger sharks are second only to great whites when it comes to attacking humans. They also have undiscerning palates, which means they are less likely than great whites to swim away after biting people.

The Sharktender follows a much-buzzed-about interactive Shark video from Southern Comfort, which is also the latest video in its Whatever's Comfortable campaign. This edition introduces a powerful female character with a fierce shark manicure and includes click-to-view recipe functionality for the Cold-Blooded Ginger cocktail.

The video has about 28,000 views as of August 14.

"As mysterious as the deep blue sea, and just as unforgiving, our patron knows what she wants and there's no doubt she's going to get it; great white shark nails and a Cold Blooded Ginger," the brand says, "My oh my oh my it is good to be top of the food chain."

The rep says she has great white nails in the video, but her manicure will feature different sharks in other social extensions, like on Facebook.


Lena DerOhannessian, the global marketing director at Southern Comfort, says the last two videos in the Whatever's Comfortable series, "Shark" and "Young Gun," have related cocktails and are more interactive than the previous four.

Whatever's Comfortable launched two years ago when Southern Comfort brought on Wieden+Kennedy New York as its agency of record. At the time, the brand said, "The campaign, much like the brand, was created to celebrate and inspire the awesome attitude of people who are completely comfortable with themselves."

DerOhannessian says the focus of the most recent Shark video was "first and foremost to think about a powerful female character. We've never had that before in the series of commercials in the past. The genesis of the Shark commercial was to unleash a really powerful, inspiring female character."

According to the rep, the target audience is "anyone who aspires to the attitude of self-comfortableness" and he notes, "the character is not meant to appeal exclusively to women - although we think she definitely will. She is meant to continue broadening the definition of awesome..."

The first video in the Whatever's Comfortable series has 2.1 million views.

Southern Comfort was created in New Orleans in 1874. It is a Brown-Forman brand.

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Lisa Lacy

In addition to ClickZ and Search Engine Watch, Lisa's work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.

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