Moët Hennessy is a storied spirits organization that understands luxury very well (after all, it’s part of LVMH). The company has typically grown through acquisition rather than starting new brands on its own, but there was an opportunity in the spirits market where there was no meaningful brand to acquire: luxury rum. They came to us to help create a new brand that would do in rum what brands like Absolut, Belvedere and Grey Goose had done in vodka. No small challenge.
What We Did
First we listened to luxury cocktail drinkers. But we got a bit discouraged as one respondent summed up the situation in plain terms, “When I think of rum, I think of spring break… sweet drinks in plastic cups. Rum is all about the p’s: pirates, palm trees, parrots and inevitably, puking.” In short, “luxury rum” was an oxymoron for most luxury spirit drinkers.
But when we talked to insiders at cutting edge cocktail lounges (you know, the places that don’t have signs in New York’s China Town), we found that rum was embraced as a far more sensual spirit than the antiseptic, and relatively generic, vodka. We spent time with mixologists in bleeding edge bars where celebrities and insiders would come for mixed drinks like the classic rum daiquiris that Hemingway so loved (nothing like the frozen concoction many now think of). We learned about rum as the most mixable of spirits and the limited palette of rums beyond dark “toppers” and the ubiquitous Bacardi. And we learned about the luxurious potential of Rhum Agricole, made from pure cane juice instead of the tarry sugar by-product from which mainstream rum is made.
We also observed the trickle down effect in cocktail culture. Hot new drinks and brands first gained credibility with true mixologists (the great chefs of the bartending world) and spread to bartenders at influential watering holes. From these mixologists we could create a ripple effect to the mainstream of cocktail culture with an efficient marketing spend. But we would need a brand that appealed equally to the artistic aspirations of the mixologist and the social success desired by the end consumer – a mainstream cocktail drinker.
At this point we conducted extensive work sessions with the clients to synthesize our learning into a new brand. The result was a rum for the true mixologist, to help them transform the ordinary mixed drink into an extraordinary cocktail. Even a pedestrian rum and Coke could magically become a Cuba Libre with this new kind of rum. We wrote a simple Strategic Point of View to capture the essence of this new brand: Believe In Alchemy. It spoke to the aspirations of a mixologist creating magnificent drinks and the social aspirations of the drinker looking to transform an ordinary evening into something special.
Using the Believe in Alchemy Strategic Point of View, we briefed packaging designers, optimized name and packaging ideas, wrote product descriptions, and briefed communication agencies to help craft the launch of 10 Cane Rum. The new brand exceeded first year sales goals by over 50% and went on to become one of the fastest growing premium rum brands in the U.S.