advertising and other stuff. no, really.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Duke did shots with Khrushchev—
and you didn’t.

There’s a few approaches to working on liquor brands. Disaronno? Lifestyle. Smirnoff? Beauty shot. Captain Morgan? Funny. Ketel One? Character-based. Having worked on enough tequila, rum and vodka accounts in tha’ day, the focus was basically lifestyle scenarios or beauty shots with close-ups of the bottle.

Now, brands are looser and do stuff that’s more fun. At some point in their advertising evolution though, many will try one of the approaches above. They’ll say each brand has its own identity, but the importer has a say in their overall messaging and direction.

At the time, Absolute pwned the classic ad while Skyy was just starting to shake things up with it’s D&G-inspired funk. (Which, apparently, they can’t seem to escape.)

Before working on Jose Cuervo, I got to work on its distant 26 light years away Vega cousin, Sauza Conmemorativo. (As far as the market went, it was Cuervo—and everyone else.)

What no brand would think to do then was the stuff that Canadian Club did with it’s Real Man approach, or that Ketel One is trying to do now with its cross of lifestyle and character. (Sure it’s a beer, but it could be considered funkier cousin of Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man work.)

Sauza would never search the history of the brand and find out that John Wayne loved it. They wouldn’t know what to with that type of factoid even if they had, other than maybe throw it on a coaster as part of some bar promotion.


No, they wouldn’t use info like that to do something different for the brand. They preferred to show young couples doing shots off each other or dancing close like SoCo nation does now. (As do too many brands that play it safe.)

Excitement squared.

Never mind that his favorite drink was Sauza Commemorativo, and he often served it with ice that he had chipped from an iceberg during one of his voyages on his yacht, “The Wild Goose.”

It’s okay, you can say it with me: That’s hardcore.

Never mind that he went toe to toe and vodka shot for vodka shot with Nikita Khrushchev. Most Interesting Man in the World? Mojito boy with laceless Chucks?

Meet The Duke.™

Pound for pound, no Real Man had more body parts removed and lived to tell about.

The brand would likely not take this approach even though they have the heritage and authenticity to pull it off.*

No, for now, The Duke will have to wait for someone on the brand to allow an agency to bring him back to life.** Which is a shame.

Most brands spend a ton of money to invent character like that.

*The same importer had another brand—Fundador—favored by none other than Hemingway himself. Real Man reactor core now fully exposed.

**At least the Coen Brothers will with their remake of True Grit.