Why Brisk Iced Tea Is Betting Big On Content And Culture

The brand is using events, streetwear partnerships, and hip hop to connect with its core consumer.

As a brand, if your core audience is young hip hop fans and the coolest thing associated with your product is an 84-year-old golfer, you’re either a master of irony or you’ve got a problem.


Even though Brisk Iced Tea’s new Half & Half product line isn’t officially called an Arnold Palmer–the man’s got his own brand–it’s still what most people think of when they hear about mixing lemonade and iced tea. That’s hardly a selling point to the young, multi-cultural audience that Brisk’s research says made up 47% of its consumers. Last summer, the brand needed a better way to connect with them and teamed with Vice and Noisey to launch its Brisk Bodega platform, a music and culture hub featuring videos and photos of rappers, DJs, MMA fighters and more, as well as a series of events. Now it’s doubling down on the Bodega, launching even more content with Vice and Noisey.

“We’ve done a lot of research over the last couple of years on this consumer and they don’t typically work a 9 to 5 job, they don’t consume media the same way as previous generations have, it’s a lot more mobile, digital and on-demand so it’s really changed how we market to them,” says Brisk’s director of marketing Eric Whitehouse.

New content includes a new series called “Rap PSAs” with artists like Vince Staples and Weekend Money giving tips on things like driver safety and personal style. There will also be one called “Call Your Mom” with rappers–you guessed it–calling their mom on speakerphone for the camera to show fans another side of the artists.

At SXSW, the brand is launching its Bodega summer music series, a six-city tour featuring up and coming and established talent, curated by Roc Nation artist DJ Mustard. Brisk has also teamed with streetwear brand Crooks & Castles on a line of sunglasses, shirts, and accessories to be available at SXSW and the Bodega tour.

“In the past we’ve worked with Eminem and had Star Wars tie-ins, which were fantastic and provided awareness, but now to build more credibility with the consumer it’s got to be closer to them,” says Whitehouse.

Even the web pre-roll ads for the new Half & Half campaign star real consumers giving real reactions, resulting in a strange but funny juxtaposition of the ho-hum shrug of a young consumer with the over-the-top commercial voiceover.


“This consumer really consumes media and engages with brands differently so we’ve had a shift in how we get in touch with them,” says Whitehouse. “It’s not an indictment of more traditional media, it’s just that this is the way to go to reach this consumer. If we can inspire people by teaming up with emerging artists or a brand like Crooks & Castles and get the word out on amazing talent, and be seen as a conduit for that, that would be amazing.”

About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.