Drinks giant Diageo strikes first mover advantage ad deal with Facebook

Drinks giant Diageo, which already boasts 12.6m fans on Facebook, has increased its advertising investment in the social media site and is joining its new ‘client council’ that has its first meeting in October.

On the face of it this looks like a sweetheart deal (Facebook CMO Carolyn Everson claims Facebook is a “small company” and “can’t do this for everyone”) but Diageo has used Facebook in the recent past to good effect with major campaigns for Guinness and Smirnoff so a bit of mutual back scratching (and more) is probably inevitable.

Diageo is one of a small number of giant advertisers, including Procter & Gamble, American Express and Wal-Mart, which already enjoy access to what Facebook calls its SWAT team which provides advance news of the latest goodies from its marketing, research and product engineering groups.

“Facebook are working with us to make sure that we are not only fan collecting but that they are actively engaged and driving advocacy for our brands. We are looking for increases in customer engagement and increases in sales and market share,” says senior Diageo marketer Kathy Parker.

Diageo, which is ramping up its digital adspend to about 20 per cent of its total, chiefly on social media, is particularly interested in attracting drinks fans in rapidly-growing markets like South America. Diageo and Facebook share the same office building in Sao Paulo. Brazil is also the venue for the next football World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

Facebook’s ad sales operation has become much more aggressive since Everson joined the company from Microsoft in March, a move which infuriated Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Facebook’s big deals with big advertisers will also alarm media agencies. If big clients are striking big direct deals with Facebook, is there a role (with consequent fees) for media agencies in the process?

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