The best Dry January campaigns of 2021

By Ed Brown, community manager & content creator, YesMore.

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags: NABLAB

This year, marketing options for Dry January were a lot more limited than in previous years. But that didn't stop brands being creative. Ed Brown of YesMore drinks marketing agency takes a look at some of the campaigns.

In comparison to 2020 the well is positively...ahem, dry. In years gone by we’ve seen London buses with full makeovers ​and entirely alcohol-free pubs open​ just to celebrate a month without drinking. However in the year+ of social distancing, options have been limited with many brands taking a different approach.

We saw Pernod Ricard buy a majority stake in alcohol-free spirit Ceder’s. There were new product launches galore from Desperados with “Virgin 0.0%”​ a non-alcoholic tequila-flavoured lager. Heineken launched multipacks of its 0.0% beer and a new low and no spirit from Salcombe Distilling Co. entered the U.S. market in January​.

Continuing to grow in popularity hard seltzer has also seen an introduction​ in the low and no category. Which is odd considering hard seltzer is just an alcoholic version of something that’s already non-alcoholic. Does that make it just seltzer? Softer seltzer? 

And of course Diageo-owned gin giant Gordon’s stepped into the fray with “Gordon’s 0.0%” which promises to perfectly capture the essence of Gordon’s without compromising on taste.

However there are some brands that have succeeded in their Dry January dreams, so without further ado, here are some of our favourite Dry January campaigns of 2021.

Carlsberg 0.0%

In its first global spot from agency Grey Europe this year, Carlsberg has continued to capitalise on its “Probably the best beer in the world” slogan as well as its partnership with Mads Mikkelsen by asking consumers “can the best things be better with alcohol-free beer?” 

The ever-dapper Mads shows us that some of the finer things in life (including examples such as a clean one-handed backhand, balancing stuff and skipping your own ad) are not just as good, but better with Carlsberg 0.0%.

Whilst this ad is fun, lighthearted and enjoyable to watch, the message feels ill-timed at the moment with images of people sitting and eating in restaurants and going out and about but no sight of masks, gloves or even a tiny bottle of hand sanitiser. Overall it’s enjoyable but it feels like this ad was shot in February of 2020 and then everybody just decided to stick with it. 

Budweiser Team Zero

If anything has come out of this pandemic it’s that more people than ever are trying to take care of their health. Even people who didn’t exercise beforehand have put on their running shoes and hit the road.

Budweiser has climbed onto this trend for Dry January with Team Zero​. Based on the idea that you’re more likely to lose weight or stay in shape if you do it together, signing up for Team Zero places you with many like-minded people in a space where you can encourage each other, receive motivation, tips and more from elite sports stars. Oh and of course you can do all of this whilst enjoying a delicious can of Budweiser Zero, AB InBev’s non-alcoholic offering this year. They’re also giving members of Team Zero the chance to win a free pair of tickets to the 2021 World Series Game.

There’s always room in the world for an alcohol brand to promote a more balanced healthy lifestyle and in this way Budweiser has succeeded. Budweiser has always been a big name in sports from its famous Superbowl ads to sponsoring the Premier League. It’s managed to really capture the spirit of 2020 while staying true to its key brand points and for that, here’s to them!

Signature Brew: 'It's January. During a pandemic. And the pubs are shut. So we had an idea...'

Scaling down, Walthamstow-based brewery Signature Brew released Lo-Fi, it’s non-alcoholic pale ale in January 2021. And whilst the ad seems to be endearingly low-cost it is effective.

If you order twelve cans of Lo-Fi then you can nominate a friend and Signature Brew will send them twelve cans absolutely free.

What’s interesting about this is that even though they didn’t hire a Cannes Film Festival Best Actor winner or partner with international sporting stars, it hits the mark of what matters to people most at the moment. Which is friends and family being together. And if you can’t be literally together then you might as well drink the same non-alcoholic beer over a Google Hangout, right?

Honourable Mentions

Non-alcoholic spirit Bax Botanics featured some of their favourite serves all through the month and were featured in Vogue’s list of the top sixteen non-alcoholic drinks​ for Dry January.

Lucky Saint’s alcohol free beer​ combined Dry January with Veganuary with a series of giveaways teaming up with some of the best vegan brands on the market. They were also awarded a gold medal by the European Beer Challenge and won Best Classic AF Beer at the AF Beer Club Awards.

Alcohol-free spirit Caleño ​kicked 2021 off in style with Joyful January! A series of giveaways, online dance classes, cookalongs and drinks masterclasses to start the year on the right foot.

To sum up...

ed brown
Ed Brown

With so many brands presumably scrapping their original Dry Jan ideas and scrambling to find something new, it’s impressive that even a few were able to create something good out of such an awful year.

While we’ve seen some people drinking less in recent months, drinking more is also on the rise ​for others. It’s been good to see big brands that stand to have a huge boost in off-trade sales make a clear and conscious effort to remind people of the value of slowing down or cutting back.

After the continued turmoil of 2021 and hopefully, eventual reopening of society and beginning of a return to normal later in the year, I’d expect Dry January 2022 to see a boost of creativity across a range of channels. 

Related topics: Industry Voices

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