“Because we launched during the peak of the pandemic, and [experiential] wasn’t really a tool that we could use at the beginning, it’s just been amazing to see the community that our brand was built on. And so physically bringing people together now and being able to facilitate that more has been amazing. For me, the most important thing is inspiring that sense of community in markets that mean a lot for our brand.”
–Katie Beal Brown, Founder and CEO, Lone River Beverage Co.
West Texas-native Katie Beal Brown, founder and ceo of Lone River Beverage Co., is focused on bringing a taste of the modern American West to new markets across the U.S. Having launched its Ranch Water hard seltzers in April 2020, initially in Brown’s home state and in Tennessee, Lone River has spent the last few years cultivating its fanbase online. Now, it’s all about bringing the community together in person at events, embracing the brand’s multiyear growth and rise in popularity, thanks in part to collaborations with Paramount’s “Yellowstone” TV series and country music stars.
Lone River leveraged experiential marketing to introduce its hard seltzers and margarita-style beverages in new markets, like New York and L.A., and while the brand had transported the spirit of West Texas to both coasts with its events, the recent “A Night on the Ranch” in Nashville was a totally different experience for Lone River.
“Nashville felt much more like a homecoming for us, as it’s become a second home for our brand. There are a lot of people who were some of the first to even purchase our product there, and they’ve now become good friends,” Brown says. “Nashville is one of the fastest growing markets in America, with a ton of new consumers moving in. It was an opportunity to get them together but also celebrate some of the country musicians who we think really represent the spirit of our brand like Lainey Wilson and Ian Munsick, who has been on this journey with us from the beginning.”
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The Nashville event brought to life an elevated, modernized ranch experience. For its photo op centerpiece, attendees had a chance to pose with or get onto the back of a Texas Longhorn bull statue surrounded by hay bales and a blue-skied grassland backdrop. Lone River Ranch Water and Ranch Rita cans stacked together in the shape of the states of Tennessee and Texas were hung up as art pieces on the venue’s corrugated metal walls, alongside neon signs of the logo. Cacti, other desert plants, wooden displays, Longhorn skulls, cowhide rugs and Ranch House signage rounded out the space’s Texas-themed décor.
Texas-based Bumble and Brim Hat Co. was on-site with a hat-branding station, which had a line all night, and it brought real firebrands to personalize attendees’ hats with initials or words of their choice. (Brown usually opts for “WTX” to represent her West Texas roots.) Apparel and merchandise from partner Diamond Cross Ranch were also available.
Amid plenty of Lone River beverage samples, the brand offered a can-rimming station at the bar so participants could customize the flavor of their Ranch Water or Ranch Rita by adding salt, Tajin, hot sauce or chamoy to the tops of their cans. With beverages in hand, attendees were treated to performances from country artists Lainey Wilson, Ian Munsick, Meg McRee and Jake Worthington, creating an authentic Texas sound for the evening.
While “A Night on the Ranch” was invite-only with 250 day-one consumers, business partners and influencers in attendance, Lone River wanted to give true country music fans the opportunity to see Wilson’s live set. Brown and her team stopped by one of the brand’s favorite bars on Nashville’s lively Broadway Street, with Wilson in tow, to surprise fans with a meet-and-greet and passes to the event.
“Fans were crying and just completely shocked because I don’t think they were expecting something like this to happen on an average Tuesday,” she says. “It was another fun way to engage our fans. The whole reason we’re here today is because of them, so we wanted to do something special.”
The Nashville event also celebrated Lone River’s limited-edition “Yellowstone” Ranch Pack, launched with Wilson, who guest starred in season five of the hit Western drama. The “Yellowstone” partnership happened organically, according to Brown, when Lone River started noticing fans gathering to watch the show with Ranch Waters and Ranch Ritas. Looking to get involved with “Yellowstone” in a “more formal capacity,” the brand ran a campaign with country singer and cast member Ryan Bingham during season four, and then grew the partnership further with the branded Ranch Pack last summer.
“It’s been fun to see how much America has been inspired by the world that Taylor Sheridan has created with ‘Yellowstone,’ and it’s kind of influenced this resurgence of the American West culture,” Brown says. “That’s something that certainly aligns well with our brand, and then it just felt like there were a lot of natural synergies between ourselves, the show and even the talent that we’ve had the opportunity to create our own kind of organic relationships with.”
Since “A Night on the Ranch,” Lone River traveled to Las Vegas to team up with country superstar Miranda Lambert for a “Cowgirls Night Out” event at her Velvet Rodeo Residency during the National Finals Rodeo in December. While Lone River continues expanding its experiential strategy around the country, Brown says the brand needs to get a “big ole West Texas party” on the schedule and bring everyone out to her home ranch.
“Because we launched during the peak of the pandemic, and [experiential] wasn’t really a tool that we could use at the beginning, it’s just been amazing to see the community that our brand was built on. And so physically bringing people together now and being able to facilitate that more has been amazing,” she says. “For me, the most important thing is inspiring that sense of community in markets that mean a lot for our brand.”
Spin Through A Night on the Ranch:
Photos: Courtesy of Lone River Beverage Co.