How Diageo kept bartenders’ spirits up during lockdown

Diageo launched a global online training programme for bartenders to keep one of the most social work communities together during lockdown.

When the Covid-19 crisis shut down bars around the world, the hospitality sector was dealt a devastating blow.

Seeking a way to bring the global community of bartenders together, drinks giant Diageo brought its bartender training programme – Diageo Bar Academy (DBA) – completely online.

Diageo has worked hard to build relationships with bartenders around the world, with local, physical training sessions playing a key role in their professional development.

Working with Smarts, Diageo looked for a way to replace the vital face-to-face element this provides. Using digital and social media channels to offer support, motivation and inspiration, the company offered content ranging from tutorials and live webinars hosted on Instagram Stories, to pub quizzes and bar skills challenges.

Above all, it sought to create a supportive community online to tackle issues of uncertainty and isolation among hospitality staff.

Insights from how bar staff had interacted with Diageo’s online channels in the past showed that Facebook was their platform of choice, that they are reliant on mobile devices and often hard to reach through traditional media.

The company rallied the bartending community, recruiting a team of content contributors featuring experienced bartenders with credibility in the field.

The project delivered unprecedented results. DBA more than doubled its reach during the crisis, with its campaign highlighted by Facebook as a best-in-class example of brand activity during the Covid-19 outbreak. DBA’s reach on Facebook increased by 846%.

The DBA website smashed its yearly KPI of attracting 605,000 users by welcoming more than 1 million in just nine months.

The Marketing Week Masters judges were impressed. “Providing focus and comfort for the industry is really something to be commended,” they said. And it’s why Diageo has taken home the prize for travel, tourism and hospitality.

Given the success of the transition, a digital-first approach will now be retained at DBA.



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