Let’s jump right back in. Obviously, it would have helped if I had actually sampled the drink, but luckily for me, I’m reviewing the marketing, not the taste. From everything I’ve heard it’s a decent offering, some noting that it is noticeably better than $10-$20/bottle standard ryes, although you may want to check out Drink Dogma.
Robert’s review wasn’t very positive, and it generated some passionate comments. While we both examine the advertising/marketing, he seems to be strictly talking about how it will go over with consumers while I’m looking at a more general market adaption (will the mixologists use it as a go-to rye in their cocktails?). He also posed some good questions, especially, “marketing certainly shows that they are appealing to a mainstream audience, but does anyone who has tried the rye like it?” Differences aside, the intro alone makes Robert’s one of the best reviews I’ve ever read. However much they may have softened its bite, I still contend that no one is going to order $50 (or however high they mark it up) rye bottle service. The success of this brand rests in early adoption by the the cocktail-revival scene taste makers.
Its imperative to note that my information was gathered from public sources. I have no visibility as to what marketing and branding efforts have been undertaken aside from what’s available to the general public. It seems like Qorvis and JSH&A are both involved but I’ll need some more time to find out who is doing what, and in what capacity.
I also highly recommend the book Brand Hijack. Besides being a fun read, if offers great insights for those interested in non-traditional marketing (it doesn’t get any more non-traditional than marketing without marketing) and creating both brand meaning and evangelism.
I didn’t anticipate another marathon post (part of the reason I broke it up into 2 parts), it just sort of happened and yes, I will actually mention pocket squares soon.
Final thoughts: Right now we have more questions than answers, but when I think of Johnnie Walker and other higher-end whiskies, that brand viurtues that come to mind are tradition and class. (ri)1 just strikes me as pretentious. I predict that (ri)1 will flounder if Beam and its marketers are unable to change this. Look, the cocktail revivalists (mixologists and bar-goers alike) are an already existing subculture that could embrace this new rye and help to change the perception of (ri)1 if properly given the chance. If Beam didn’t heavily pre-seed their new offering to this tribe (and maybe they did, like I said I don’t have the visibility), they’ve done themselves and (ri)1 a great disservice. I think (ri)1 is a product desperate for a brand hijack. Let the hijackers prevent it from coming off as another high priced, pretentious liquor from a company that spent more money on marketing than distilling the drink itself. Let them take ownership of (ri)1′s identity (if they even want to, and for $46 a bottle, I’m not sure they do). Their marketing effort so far just seems confusing and muddled (muddled marketing? Murketing alert, someone call Rob Walker). Who exactly are they targeting? Right now it seems like they’re trying to hit everysingle aspect of the market, but maybe I’m missing something. Look for an update on (ri)1 in the future.