Pop Culture Drinks Very Popular Right Now

Pop culture branded drinks are all the rage right now.

ByStefanie Tuder
July 25, 2014, 2:45 PM
PHOTO: Game of Thrones has spawned insanely popular beer.
Game of Thrones has spawned insanely popular beer.
Brewery Ommegang

— -- Like a particularly enjoyable form of "Inception," you can now drink your "Game of Thrones" beer while you watch ... "Game of Thrones."

Or "50 Shades of Grey" wine while you read the book (or watch the movie trailer, for that matter). Or "Downton Abbey" wine while you binge on the British series.

And the list goes on.

In recent months, instances of branded drinks have skyrocketed, and people are drinking them up.

Brewery Ommegang was approached by HBO -- the network behind "Game of Thrones" -- to produce a branded beer.

“The show exploded as you know. The first beer came out in March 2013, and I just had a meeting with HBO two days ago and our contact had a bottle up on his shelf and he was like, ‘Man, that was so hard to find; you remember that?’ because it just flew off the shelves,” Brewery Ommegang marketing director Bill Wetmore told ABC News. “It did so well and it exceeded our expectations so well that we quickly brewed as much as we could and rushed a second batch out there before that season ended.”

Besides the obvious increase in sales, the advantages for Brewery Ommegang were immediate. HBO broadcasts the partnership to its over 10 million Facebook fans, there have been over 200 million traditional media impressions on the project and they’ve increased sales of their other beers as a result.

“It’s just obviously exponential exposure for us. We work with a retail partner and say, ‘Okay I know you want 10 cases of Game of Thrones to feature and display in your account. You have an audience here that’s demonstrating an appreciation for good beer, an appreciation for our beer, so can we get you to feature five cases of our Witte or our Rare Vos alongside?’” Wetmore said. “And so we get very good visibility and displays of our core products. We bring new drinkers in that way, and our core beers go up 25 to 45 percent when our Game of Thrones beers are out there. It’s really having an impact on growing our core business as well.”

But unlike what Wetmore calls “vanity” projects – other drinks just slapping a branded label on a drink that has nothing to do with the brand itself – Brewery Ommegang works closely with HBO to create flavors that make sense, something Wines That Rock does as well with their 50 Shades of Grey and Downton Abbey vintages.

PHOTO: Downton Abbey and 50 Shades of Grey have spawned insanely popular wines.
Downton Abbey and 50 Shades of Grey have spawned insanely popular wines.
Wines That Rock

“In almost every 'Downton Abbey,' whether it’s Carson downstairs picking out the wine or they’re dining and celebrating upstairs, wine is all over the show. The one thing we believed and reason NBC Universal [who owns 'Downton Abbey'] got excited about working with us is we wanted to be very transparent and authentic to the show and that period of England,” Wines That Rock partner and co-founder Ron Roy told ABC News. “They drank Bordeaux, and while our vineyard was in California, we ended up partnering with a winery in the Bordeaux region of France so these were authentic to the show. Even down to the packaging we were able to use the 'Downton Abbey' brand and the castle and stay very pure to the experience.”

And E.L. James herself (the author) was involved in the making of the "50 Shades of Grey" wines, traveling to California and working with the winemakers to create the perfect blends.

It’s a gamble that has paid off for both companies, demonstrated through sales. The first run of 50 Shades of Grey wine sold out in four weeks and has consistently rated in the top 25 wines for sales on Amazon.com, while the "Downton Abbey" wine sold three times more than Wines That Rock anticipated and was among the top 10 selling wines on Wine.com after the winter holidays.

As for Game of Thrones, Brewery Ommegang plans to make four times as much product for the release of their next "GoT" branded beer, Valar Morghulis, in October than they did with the first beer only 18 months ago in March 2013.

“It just feels like a sweet spot of connectivity,” Wetmore said of the partnership. “It really seemed to strike a chord with the fans of the show and the fans of our beer.”

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