The Mega Marketing of a Brand Part III – Back To The Future With Jose Cuervo

Originally published on Dec 3, 2006

tequila aficionado, vault, jose cuervo



The trend in the spirits industry is for cross marketing with a guerrilla attitude.

That’s shooting your enemy not from behind trees and bushes, but…

From where they don’t expect you to be! Nobody’s proven to be better at this than Jose Cuervo.


Let’s Review…

Taberna del Tequila,  jose cuervoIn Part I, we took you inside the Taberna del Tequila, tequila producer Jose Cuervo’s stealthy way of introducing their products to a new captive audience—air travelers—all across the country.

In Part II, we revisited one of our favorite haunts from the 70’s and 80’s, Southern California’s El Torito Mexican restaurant chain. There, Cuervo has been steadily maintaining their relationship with tequila drinkers for almost 50 years.

In this final installment in the Mega Marketing of a Brand series, we promised you a sneak peek at the future of Jose Cuervo’s marketing strategy. We also hinted that the future had almost nothing to do with tequila.

In fact, the chances are good that—without you knowing it—you’re already up to your caballitos in their mad plan to take over the tequila taste buds of the world. Also, we’re going to explain how you’re part of Jose Cuervo’s mysterious “forth tier.”

So reach for your cellular phone and…

[Tweet “The future of Jose Cuervo has almost nothing to do with tequila”]


Text Me!

Blackberries, laptops, PDA’s, and desktop computers. E-mail, e-mail discussion lists, blogs, forums, and podcasts. Broadband, DSL, and wireless Internet. Reaching out and touching someone has never been speedier!

It’s so easy for all of us to communicate our thoughts and feelings, now. Almost instantaneously, a hot deal on a caseload of your favorite blanco—or a good or bad review of a new reposado–can be forwarded to hundreds of tequila aficionados with the click of a mouse.

In fact, that’s exactly how I do it.

cuervo nation,  jose cuervoAs soon as I write this entry, I can publish it on this site. Every member or surfer can then agree or disagree, express their feelings on the subject by writing back, and even forward this blog/article to their friends. No more waiting to hear what anyone thinks about the hype behind an average reposado, or the reemergence of a favorite añejo.

Just post and click “send.”

Large and small tequila producers now have websites that allow consumers to check them out, contact them, and ask questions. By the same token, these producers can glean information from their customers and request feedback.

[Tweet “What do Tequila companies do with the info they glean from their websites?”]

What do you do with all this information? How do you use it?

Jose Cuervo has figured it out. But first…


How ‘bout a Beer With Your Tequila?

Discus, distilled spirits council,  jose cuervoIn 2004, the Adams Beverage Group, a market-research firm in Connecticut, reported that U.S. spirits sales rose 3.8 percent in 2003, the highest level since the 1980’s. Beer sales dropped by 0.6 percent that same year.

According to New York-based consulting firm, Beverage Marketing Corporation, beer’s overall share of the alcohol beverage market has eroded like the salt around a margarita glass. By contrast, since 2000, the market share held by wine and spirits has grown, especially among younger consumers.

Finally, the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. reported in 2004 that spirits accounted for 29.7 percent of alcohol sales in the U.S. compared with 28.6 percent in 2002. Most of that growth was from the super-premium brands that, for our purposes, are defined by the council as tequila retailing for more than $27. The volume of all types of super-premiums sold represented about 1 percent of the U.S. market.

[Tweet “Beer’s demise is blamed on the relationships being forged by spirits companies with consumers in their 20’s.”]

Paul Walsh, liquor giant Diageo’s Chief Executive, said it best at last year’s annual shareholders meeting:

Diageo,  jose cuervo, captain morgan“Every year in the U.S. for the next ten years, there will be half a million more consumers coming into the legal drinking age, and they will be adopting spirits earlier in their life cycle,” he proclaimed.

People 21 to 24 years old account for 30 percent of the nation’s beer consumption. Beer’s demise is blamed on the relationships being forged by spirits companies with consumers in their 20’s.

Are you seeing a trend here?

Snappy radio spots, flashy cable television commercials, vibrant print ads in magazines and on billboards, hip sporting events sponsorships, and interactive websites are all weapons used by marketing experts to get ‘em while they’re young, and make ‘em lifelong customers.

What Jose Cuervo is doing to ride the wave of this trend is no secret any more.

[Tweet “Beer’s overall share of the alcohol beverage market has eroded like the salt around a margarita glass”]


The Mystery of the Missing Forth Tier

brandmarquee_jose_cuervo,  jose cuervoIn Part II, we explained the process by which your favorite tequila is distributed in the US. Developed after Prohibition and known as the “three tier system,” it includes importers, distributors, and every bar and restaurant you can think of.

We also shared with you the secret to Jose Cuervo’s success in working the three tier system. They’re so good at it that they have quietly modified it to fit their 21st century marketing plan. It’s so slick, that even Al Capone would approve!

Jose Cuervo has actually added a “forth tier.” And, although it is illegal to sell directly to the end consumer (you and me) they’ve just about managed to do it using—are you ready for this?–your cell phone!

[Tweet “Jose Cuervo’s success in working the 3 tier system is so good even Al Capone would approve!”]


Virtual Velvet Rope

 jose cuervo, tradicionalIn London this past spring, in conjunction with i-movo, Splendid Communications, print, outdoor advertising and radio promotion, Cuervo tequila invited consumers to enter a drawing for tickets to an exclusive Cuervo de Mayo party.

Consumers were instructed to enter by texting Cuervo with their birth dates to a designated number. Winning entries were sent a text message with a code word. Reply with that code word and bingo…! Instant text tickets. On the night of the event, staff members used PDAs to verify the winners.

The response rate was phenomenal. Eighty percent of the target market that relies on mobile phones to organize their lives answered the call. In the marketing world, this was a home run!

So the next time you get that text message on your cell, or whatever gadget you use, it could be from Jose Cuervo himself.

With all this high-tech marketing, what’s next? JCTV?


[Tweet “What’s next, Jose Cuervo TV?”]


Tequila Telenovelas

corazon partido, el amor mandaNot to be outdone by Diageo, Allied Domecq, together with Conde Naste Traveler Magazine, has produced a television show for the Oxygen Network. Bring Home the Exotic re-creates travel experiences for friends and family. What makes this five-part series so special is that Kahlúa is the special guest star!

Geared toward women in their 30’s, the show not only allows Kahlúa to control its product and brand messages, it also meets the spirits industry’s marketing standards that at least 70 percent of a TV or film audience is over age 21.

The show has been so effective that Allied Domecq is concentrating on producing more shows instead of focusing on product placements in existing TV shows and movies.

On the flip side, in partnership with Hispanic media powerhouse Telemundo, and Mexican television producer Argos, Jose Cuervo has graciously allowed filming of the hot new telenovelaCorazón Partido (Porque el Amor Manda), on the grounds of La Rojeña distillery. Sauza has also jumped at the chance of having their distillery featured in the show. The exposure is not just in Mexico and Latin America, but to millions of Hispanics living in the US that watch Spanish language television, too.

[Tweet “We’ve found another Tequila Telenovela! Corazón Partido (Porque el Amor Manda)”]


The Tequila Love Boat

carnival cruise linesLike Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck in the classic cartoon of piano oneupmanship, Sauza just finished sponsoring the “Sauza Tequila Academy” on board Carnival Cruise Lines’ “Fun Ship” Fascination.

Remarkably similar to Cuervo’s Taberna del Tequila spotlighted in Part I, the number two tequila producer designed a program to teach adult passengers everything they’ve ever wanted to know about Sauza.

From its distinguished history, to specialty cocktails, to sponsored topside parties, cruise vacationers in search of new experiences can discover another side of Sauza. With t-shirts and recipe cards, passengers can even relive their memories of the Tequila Academy once they’ve returned home.

[Tweet “Sauza Tequila Academy – everything you wanted to know about tequila – on a Carnival cruise ship”]



discus, distilled spirits councilAccording to the Distilled Spirits Council, each year the alcohol industry spends more than a billion dollars on “measured media” advertising. That’s TV, radio, print, and outdoor. Radio and TV alone are estimated for this year to be about $110 million. That’s a four-time increase from 2000!

There’s no escaping our friends Jose Cuervo, Sauza, or any other tequila company that decides to follow their lead and can keep up.

The trend in the spirits industry is for cross marketing with a guerrilla attitude. That’s shooting your enemy not from behind trees and bushes, but…

From where they don’t expect you to be! Nobody’s proven to be better at this than Jose Cuervo.

With downloadable music videos, podcasts of news reports and interviews, and even your favorite TV shows—all with commercials–expect him to be everywhere. Even on that i-Pod with the small screen that you carry with you in your car, to the gym, and while you walk your dog.

To paraphrase ScarfacePacino, not Capone

“Let me introduce you to my little friend…Jose!”

[Tweet “Cross marketing with a guerrilla attitude – Nobody’s proven better than Jose Cuervo.”]


logo1By Mike Morales, Co-Organizer
New Mexico International Tequila Experience™
Southwest Tequila Association

New Mexico International Tequila Experience™



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