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Lone River Lures Ryan Bingham Back With New Cocktail’s Siren Song

Lone River Lures Ryan Bingham Back With New Cocktail’s Siren Song

The music-based work for the brand comes from new agency GSD&M

by T.L. Stanley for Adweek

Lone River Ranch Water—which quickly catapulted from its Far West Texas origins to national hot seller, putting its no-frills agave-based canned cocktails and the subcategory on the map—has dropped its first brand extension with a margarita-inspired drink.

Ranch Rita, with 6% alcohol by volume, key lime and “hints of tequila spice,” debuts with a campaign starring actor-musician Ryan Bingham, who helped introduce the flagship product and its “Follow It West” tagline last year.

In work created by the brand’s new agency GSD&M, Ranch Rita is both a cocktail and a woman who’s “salty, sweet—both when she wants to be,” according to the hero ad that tips its Stetson to female-inspired tunes like Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl”— “Ain’t no songs about her, cause y’all, she plays her own music.”

The backdrop of the spot, called “Songs About Her,” is a rowdy bar where Bingham performs on a small stage, joined by the personification of Ranch Rita, a dark-haired fiddle player.

The brief to Austin-based GSD&M included “a vision of Ranch Rita as a siren attracting you to the spirit of the drink,” Katie Beal Brown, founder, told Adweek.

And reuniting with Yellowstone star Bingham “helps us keep the continuity Lone River initially launched with,” Bill Bayne, the agency’s group creative director, added. “He’s an iconic representation of the brand—a killer songwriter, guitar player, actor and storyteller.”

Authenticity and agave-based cocktails

Lone River’s first full-scale ad effort in 2021 came from Anomaly, where Brown had worked as an account director and percolated the concept for the brand.

The switch to GSD&M on a project basis for Ranch Rita, she said, came because retaining authenticity is “critically important” to her as the brand expands.

“With that in mind, working with a Texas-based agency made all the sense in the world,” Brown said, “especially when it comes to internalizing some of the nuances of Texas culture that we want to celebrate.”

Lone River, snapped up shortly after its early pandemic-era premiere by liquor giant Diageo, wants to broaden the “agave-style malt category through [its] core Ranch Water and with innovation,” according to Jay Sethi, CMO, Diageo Beer Company.

Given the popularity of the margarita, it was a “natural space for the brand to explore and one we can authentically own,” Sethi told Adweek.

Far West Texas claims inventor’s rights to the cocktail, though Chilled magazine says there’s a “tequila-laced rabbit hole of margarita myth and legend.” In other words, there’s considerable debate about where the drink came from and who put the ingredients together first.

At any rate, Ranch Rita aims to tap into the current tequila craze in the U.S. and distinguish itself in a jam-packed ready-to-drink category that sees new entries—RuPaul and World of Wonder just announced a House of Love line with a tangerine margarita flavor—nearly every week.

With the backing of Diageo, Ranch Rita’s marketing has included spots during the recent CMT Awards on CBS and will continue with digital and social media buys with short versions of the hero ad plus responsible drinking messages.

Lone River, for Ranch Rita and its four Ranch Water flavors, plans stunts and activations with country music, rodeos and other “brand-aligned” partners through the summer, Brown said.

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