Should We Call It $h*t-facedbook?

Well, it’s official. Magners Cider (owned by C&C Group) is the First Alcohol to be Sold on Facebook. Commerce on Facebook, or “f-commerce” as it has been coined, is beginning to takeoff in the United Kingdom, Magners is the very first alcoholic beverage to jump onboard. It’s rumored that UK Diageo has plans to make the move as well.

The Magners campaign supports the launch of Magners Specials, a range of premium ciders blended with natural ingredients. The ads feature the unusual flavors and ingredients in the cider. They will appear in print on consecutive pages, on billboards and online with to goal to encourage consumers to indulge in something different.

As an added social benefit, Smartphone users can launch additional interactive content using the Aurasma Lite App (image recognition technology that delivers videos, animations, audio or web pages) to receive tasting notes and order a free premium.

Kirsty Hunter, head of marketing at Magners, said, “Being able to purchase these products via Facebook and integrating Aurasma into our creatives is exciting and bold and underlines the growing role that digital and social media has on the lives of our consumers.”

You can imagine that these beverage companies will come under fire for encouraging underage drinking with younger consumers. In anticipation of the criticism, the biggest alcoholic beverage companies have collaborated on a set of self-regulatory guidelines for advertising responsible marketing practices in social media. In line with these guidelines, Magners has devised a three-tier security system that asks consumers to: 1) sign in to verify their true identity, 2) agree to an age check on the credit card payment, and 3) the courier will also check the ID of a recipient on delivery.

I believe the goal of the Magners f-commerce store is more about gaining trial of a new product…only time will tell the impact it will have on alcohol sales! Although the Magners campaign and social media mix is very creative, the risk of selling alcohol to underage users through facebook puts a damper on the campaign for me. So, I’d have to call this one a TOSS-UP on the W.TF. (Winners, Toss-Ups or Flops) scale.

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