The Christmas season is starting early with two drinks brands launching campaigns aimed at boosting brand awareness among key consumer groups over the festive period. As well as being a time of increased drink consumption, Christmas is also an opportunity to get consumers to experiment with new brands.

Keen to take advantage of the convivial festive season, two drinks brands have unveiled their Christmas TV campaigns, aimed at promoting brand identities that consumers can buy into. This reflects the importance of the Christmas season in boosting drinks sales.

Family-owned distiller William Grant is revisiting its previously successful 'Stag in the Street' campaign, which saw cosmopolitan drinkers stop and stare as the Glenfiddich stag walked down the street. The campaign, which was "incredibly successful" according to a spokesman, will remain largely unchanged. However, the tag line "Independently minded, independently made" will be added, in order to appeal more to thirty-something males. The company hopes that this will encourage its target audience to reconsider the Glenfiddich brand. This is in line with recent activity in the whisky category, where distillers are trying to attract a younger audience.

At the same time, Bacardi Martini is putting £6.3m behind a cinema campaign for Southern Comfort. The two executions focus on sociability, showing groups of friends "hanging out and having fun". One shows a group on a train toasting first Prague, their intended destination, and then Barcelona, their actual destination. The other shows a series of disappointing Christmas presents compensated for by a gift of Southern Comfort. These adverts are aimed at targeting a younger age group (18-29), hence the focus on more active social exchanges.

Christmas is an important time for the drinks industry, and not merely because of the temporarily increased sales. For both of these brands, the festive season is being seen as an opportunity to build brand equity and to win new consumers. The odds are that consumers will be more willing to try new drinks (or may have new drinks thrust upon them) over the festive season. As a result, this is an opportunity to engage with a new consumer group.