South African society's relationship with irresponsible alcohol consumption came into sharp focus during the Covid-19 pandemic. Four booze bans have ravaged the country's alcohol industry and placed approximately 250,000 jobs in the value chain at risk.
Brands and producers in this space have rightfully ramped up messaging around responsible consumption, for the sake of public health, industry recovery and the preservation of livelihoods.
Encouraging consumers to put smart drinking choices into action in a memorable way is flavoured beer brand Flying Fish, which has partnered with Uber Eats to launch a branded ‘dark’ or ‘ghost’ kitchen called Flying Dish. The beer brand will be serving food instead of drinks to highlight the importance of lining one’s stomach before indulging in one’s favourite tipple.
Food first, Flying Fish later
The Flying Fish x Uber Eats partnership attempts to cut through the marketing clutter in order to drive home the message of ‘food first, Flying Fish later’ all the while tapping into the booming demand for food delivery services.
Explaining the inspiration behind the #EatWithIt campaign, Flying Fish brand manager Zachary Kingston told Bizcommunity, “In a world where consumers tune out the majority of advertising they are exposed to, we needed a way to get them to pay attention. So we thought, it’s not enough just to encourage consumers to drink responsibly, we have to also give them the means, and the Flying Dish is one of the ways we are doing this.
“Given that we are facing the realities of Covid-19, we wanted to ensure that people can drink responsibly, without necessarily having to go out. With the Flying Dish we have something that can respond to all these requirements, and our consumers can act on our advice from the comfort of their couches.”
The brand paraphrases Tegwyn Hughes at Queen’s University, who states that the science behind eating before alcohol consumption is clear: the fat in food sticks to the stomach’s lining for an extended period while drinking, slowing the process of the alcohol flow into the bloodstream and extending the amount of time a person is sober.
Johannesburg launch, followed by Cape Town
The Flying Dish kitchen launches on Friday, 6 August in two locations in Johannesburg, operating six days a week, with Cape Town next on the agenda.
The menu features casual favourites loved by South African palates - think fried chicken, kota, bunny chow, nachos, ribs, burgers and a selection of vegetarian and vegan options. Flying Fish roped in culinary talents Chef Neo Nontso and Chef Alex Torrao and their team of skilled chefs and assistants to bring the Flying Dish vision to life.
“We strongly believe that you can't enjoy yourself to the fullest without a full stomach. The main objective of this campaign is to drive a change in behaviour, whereby consumers eat first and drink second,” said Kingston. “We hope that consumers find that they enjoy eating before they drink, by experiencing all the benefits that come from this simple behaviour: they can enjoy themselves for longer, avoid a hangover and adopt a much safer approach to drinking holistically.”
Desensitisation to responsible drinking messaging
With many consumers becoming desensitised to the barrage of responsible drinking messages, what do brands need to keep in mind when crafting campaigns and conversations around this important topic? For Kingston, it boils down to simply listening to your consumers, who will tell you exactly what you need to do in order to get people to take notice.
“For us, this meant going beyond the obvious and not just telling people about the negatives of drinking on an empty stomach, or lecturing them, but rather taking a fun approach to showcasing the benefits around eating before you drink and responsible consumption behaviour.”
He elaborated, “The last piece of the puzzle is not just highlighting the problem, but being a part of the solution, by giving consumers platforms that they can engage with, that make acting on the advice easy and worthwhile.”
With the fourth liquor ban alone equating to a loss of R7,6bn during the four weeks it lasted, the alcohol industry has a long road to recovery ahead as off-trade sales restrictions remain in place for the time being.
“It is through the safe and responsible consumption of alcohol that we will be able to recover from the detrimental loss experienced during the four liquor bans, and as such it is important for the industry to lead by example,” said Kingston.
Promoting a culture of responsible alcohol consumption, particularly as the pandemic rages on, not only requires buy-in from consumers, but trade partners. To this end, Flying Fish parent South African Breweries (SAB) implemented a Responsible Trading Programme, an initiative that involves roughly 30,000 liquor outlets and is designed to address the issue of harmful consumption and help mitigate Covid-19 transmission.
The alcohol industry as a collective has also affirmed its commitment to partnering with the government to create a social compact for driving positive change in this regard.
“We hope that these programmes and others, will help further the conversation and drive safe consumption of alcohol,” concluded Kingston.