Originally Posted: 11/23/2009 by Nostrazarus at Tequilarack
By MICHAEL VOLPE Orange County Business Journal Staff
Two former executives of Aliso Viejo-based Nolet Spirits USA Inc., importer of Ketel One vodka, have traded martinis for margaritas. Kirk Gaither, former vice president of sales for Ketel One, and Jim Riley, former vice president of public relations and events for Ketel One, have started Newport Beach-based Intersect Beverage LLC, an importer of Azuñia Tequila from Mexico.
The two started the business after being laid off. The pair left Nolet Spirits USA after the company’s Dutch vodka maker parent sold a 50% stake in 2008 to Britain’s Diageo PLC, which has taken over a lot of the vodka maker’s U.S. distribution and marketing work.
Gaither and Riley secured a deal with Sergio Partida Zuniga and Liliana Partida, two members of a tequila making family in the Mexican state of Jalisco. They had approached Riley weeks prior to the Diageo deal about doing business.
“It was kind of like fate since Kirk and I had always talked about doing a side project together,” said Riley, chief executive at Intersect.
Marketing Azunia Tequila
“They hired us to do their ongoing integration into social media and retail marketing in bars and out of them,” said Eric Morley, principal at Blue C. Intersect is leaning on social media campaigns. The company has various campaigns including “Follow Jim Wednesdays,” where Riley offers to buy margaritas for anyone following him on Twitter, and “Margarita Mondays,” where the company posts a margarita recipe.
“Regular advertising doesn’t work for the spirits business when you’re trying to break into it,” Blue C’s Morley said. “You have to do something different.”
The ad shop is sending tequila to bloggers to taste and write about.
“The main objective is to get restaurants, night clubs and bars excited about carrying the brand,” Morley said. Riley plans to race an Azuñia Tequila truck in this year’s Baja 1000 off-road race.
Originally posted November 22, 2009 by TequilaRack.