With the launch of Conor McGregors “Proper No. Twelve Whiskey” there’s a growing trend with celebrities to create their own range of spirit drinks. It definitly launched to mixed reviews and some would say a cynical exercise to cash in on his current fame. Lots of celebrities have tried this to lesser or greater success; Danny Devito’s Limoncello, Dan Akroyd’s Crystal Head Vodka, Ryan Reynolds’ Aviation Gin, Matthew McConaughey’s Longbranch Bourbon, Bob Dylan’s Heaven’s Door Whiskey, or even Justin Timberlake’s Sauza 901 Tequila. But being authentic to their brand is still a key component if they are going to get it right.
Let’s take a look at a recent case study of how being authentic to your brand is key. A few years ago some friends who liked to holiday in Mexico bought a couple of houses in an estate that was owned by a mutual friend. These guys said the compound was like one big family. They would have breakfast in one house, lunch in another and sit around sipping tequila all day. Not a bad life! The property was called Casamigos. The guys were George Clooney and Rande Gerber.
“Casamigos really started by accident as far as a company,” Gerber said. “As you do in Mexico, we would drink a lot of tequila. We’d go out to bars and restaurants and bartenders would recommend them. Some were good, some not so good, and some expensive. There came a point where George turned to me and said, ‘Why don’t we create one that’s perfect for us?’”
“We wanted one that didn’t burn going down, that was super smooth, and had the right flavour profile. One that we didn’t have to mix — typically we drink it straight or on the rocks — that we could drink all day long and not be hungover in the morning.”
So this became a quest of passion for them to create said tequila, a personal project, as neither needed the money. So the research began, finding the right distiller, the blind tasting.
“It ended up being almost two years and 700 samples later — it was perfect,” Gerber said. “There was a point where we all chose one, and it was ours. Not only did we know we had something great that we loved, but all of our friends loved it as well.”
They were bringing almost 1000 bottles into the US so needed to get a distiller licence. Naturally these guys were well connected so met a distributor who was a friend of the Casamigos estate owner Mike Feldman.
Having George Clooney’s name attached obviously helped and the brand took off immediately, but equally importantly it started winning awards. It tasted damn good and didn’t have a strong burn. After all they wanted to drink this all day long! Now currently sold in more than 20 countries including the US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Spain, Italy, Peru, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica, the best was yet to come. Casamigos sold to Diageo for $1 billion in June 2017. Diageo agreed to pay $700 million initially, with the potential of another $300 million based on the tequila’s performance over 10 years. Not bad for a company 5 years old. The key to their brand is that it was built on friendship and a real desire to create something different. They were true to their own brand. This was meant to be a project for themselves and their friends to enjoy, now everyone can.
Gary Gleeson, Partner
Gary is a Partner at Neworld, a brand & creative design agency with over 30 years experience developing brands to position them for future growth. Gary has worked with some of Ireland’s biggest brands such as Diageo, John Rocha and O2 and is a recognised expert in hospitality branding, working with Fade St Social, Powerscourt Hotel, Mount Juliet and Adare Manor to name but a few. His belief in branding and its relationship with design effectiveness has seen him guide a myriad of companies through the branding maze. He realises client visions using this synergy of strategic branding and design. He is also the self-professed champion of chilli-making!