With so many drinks brands on the market, it can be a daunting task to put your time (and money) behind a start-up. Especially when you are looking at entering an already oversaturated market like the wine business or spirits sector. Consumers often have their favourites already, and swaying them to try the new kid on the block can be a challenge.
However, one thing that helps a lot with this promotion and influence, is having someone in the spotlight on board. Whether it’s seeing a distinctive bottle of vodka in the music video to your favourite song or seeing a respected sportsman put his backing behind a new health drink, this affiliation can have a big impact on sales. I’ve previously spoken about celebrities who own restaurants, but in this article, I want to look at those who have made their claim in the drinks market.
Cîroc- Sean “Diddy” Combs, French Montana & DJ Khaled
One of the best examples of celebrities getting behind a brand is with Cîroc. This high-end spirits brand specialising in vodka was initially launched in 2003, but really took off in 2007 when Sean “Diddy” Combs became a brand ambassador. In fact, before this, it is rumoured Cîroc struggled to sell 40,000 cases a year. Diddy helped those sales improve dramatically and started a long-standing link between Cîroc and hip-hop.
Since then, Cîroc has also brought French Montana and very recently DJ Khaled on board as key brand ambassadors, with them both throwing their weight behind their preferred flavours. These affiliations mean that Cîroc can be seen in many modern-day music videos which gives it a firm stance in an engaged community.
Casamigos Tequila- George Clooney
Between 1st June 2017 and 1st of June 2018, Forbes found that George Clooney made more money than any other actor has EVER made in a single year. However, a lot of this income isn’t from his acting gigs, but rather, tequila. His brand, Casamigos Tequila, was founded in 2013 by Clooney and friend Rande Gerber while they were in Mexico. Last year, British multinational Diageo purchased Casamigos in a brand deal work around $1 billion.
The push that Clooney gave to the brand was immense, rocketing it to the forefront of people’s minds when they thought of tequila. He also made sure to take tenacious care and responsibility over the brand, and in 2017 Gerber told Business Insider that he and Clooney still taste every batch of tequila. The sale of the company to Diageo doesn’t mean Clooney will be taking a step back either - in an email to CNBC at the time of the sale he had this to say: "If you asked us four years ago if we had a billion-dollar company, I don't think we would have said yes. This reflects Diageo's belief in our company and our belief in Diageo. But we're not going anywhere. We'll still be very much a part of Casamigos. Starting with a shot tonight. Maybe two."
No.1 Kombucha- Jonny Wilkinson
As one of the newest trends in the UK drinks markets, it’s fair to say the battle to become the market leader in Kombucha, an Asian fermented tea based drink, is still on. One person who didn’t shy away from this competition is former England rugby union star Jonny Wilkinson. No. 1 Kombucha was conceived by him in an effort to bring something he believed into the masses.
The idea stemmed from the battle with mental health Jonny Wilkinson has faced throughout his life. He found that something that helped him cope was a drastic overhaul of his diet and lifestyle, with kombucha being a big part of his new regime. Starting No. 1 was Wilkinson’s way of educating people on the importance of putting yourself first and I’m excited to see how it takes off in the UK market.
Invivo Wines- Graham Norton
Based in New Zealand, the story of how Invivo Wines and British chat show host Graham Norton found one another is quite serendipitous. The brand, originally started by Rob Cameron and Tim Lightbourne, became the supplier of wine to The Graham Norton Show after finding out Norton himself was a big fan of their Sauvignon Blanc.
This started a long-term friendship and Norton is now a key brand ambassador, even having his own Sauvignon Blanc created in 2014. This is one of the best examples of a celebrity collaborating with a drinks brand simply out of their love for the product, providing a mutually beneficial arrangement for both parties: Norton bringing in customers and Invivo providing the product he loves.
All of these examples really give us an idea of not only how celebrities can affect a drinks brand, but also the products they personally enjoy. A lot of the draw for consumers is that through these products, people are able to feel more connected to those that they idolise.