Social Gaming: Malibu Rum Launches Facebook App

Malibu Black has launched a Social Gaming promotion on Facebook

Malibu has launched what it claims is the “first social media game for a spirits brand.”  The Facebook application is called “Beach Club” and it challenges fans to earn points while running a virtual resort. The goal?  To help boost sales during the winter (traditionally Malibu’s slow season), and to promote the new Malibu Black, which was introduced in April of this year.

Targeting 21- to 35-year-olds, the game is available anywhere with Facebook.  The details:

  • Players earn points by landscaping the resort and keeping guests happy with the right mix of amenities
  • If you’re playing in the U.S., points are converted to sweepstakes entries for a trip to Barbados
  • Malibu blocks the game from underage drinkers, relying on birth dates in user profiles

AnnaMarie Battiloro, U.S. senior brand manager for Malibu, told AdAge Digital that the brand is trying to “keep Malibu top of mind and in the consideration set of consumers outside of the summer.”  The product is traditionally a big seller in the summer season, typically receiving a 12% sales lift in July.  Malibu Black is 70 proof and positioned for “high energy” occasions, compared with the beachier regular version, which is 42 proof.

Malibu’s brand is interspersed throughout the game.  For example, the game includes a bar in which users can earn points by mixing Malibu-inspired drinks.  That said, the game is hosted on a stand-alone page, designed to build awareness with new customers.

Social gamers represent a significant target for spirits brands, with 50% of Americans aged 18-44 playing social games daily.  But there are some risks, including concerns about whether Facebook’s system for verifying that players are of legal drinking age will deliver enough protection.  The company says it has put effort into giving the game a more adult look and feel, as opposed to using kid-friendly animations.

What do you think?  As Facebook begins to offer more opportunities for marketers to create custom applications and games that are tightly integrated into the user experience, do you think it’s appropriate for spirits brands to be sponsoring social games?