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Cocktail-making is looked at as a craft in India, says Vineet Agrawal of Brown Forman Worldwide

The company recently organised the inaugural edition of the North American Whiskey Cocktail Championship, where participants created their own unique recipes with Brown-Forman brands

Vineet Agrawal

Liquor-based products are not allowed to use mass media and so surrogate advertising and the below-the-line media platforms are the only options left for them to campaign.

BestMediaInfo.com caught up with Vineet Agrawal, Head of Marketing, India Area (India, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Bangladesh), at Brown-Forman Worldwide LLC to understand the nuances of the whiskey brands from the company.

The company recently organised the inaugural edition of the North American Whiskey Cocktail Championship. About 230 people participated in the competition where they could create their own unique recipes with Jack Daniels’ brands.

Agrawal explained, “The idea was because we see the cocktail culture is really growing in the country with niche cocktail bars coming up in the top urban centres. We wanted to provide a credible platform to the mixologists in our country. Brown-Forman is one of the global leaders in whiskey and we have a very wide range of premium American whiskey brands which we believe is very good base for cocktails we wanted to give a good platform.”

Agrawal is a firm believer that experiential marketing is key for the category. Explaining more about the initiatives of the company, he gave examples of what the company does for engagement.

He said, “We have all the premium brands and hence, for us, experiential becomes even more critical. We believe when consumers experience our brands by say, actually tasting it, it is important to us that they understand what the brand is all about. We are quite happy with the results that we have seen with the marketing approach till now. Events for us, include everything from a small activation happening inside a pub to large competition like the recent one or the music concerts. We are pretty much busy.”

One of the interesting facts that Agrawal shared is that the Jack Daniels brand celebrated 150 years last year. Every drop of Jack Daniels is made in Lynchburg Tennessee, the place where Jack Daniels was  established back in 1866. All the Jack Daniels that is sold across the globe comes from one source where Jack decided to start it.

“We are the only major distiller in the world to make our own barrels in the cooperages. It is because hundred per cent of the colour and 70-80 per cent of its flavor comes from the barrel. We want to ensure that this is one of the main ingredients.”

Speaking about the importance of music in Jack Daniels’ lifespan, Agrawal, said, “Music is another platform that we have used extensively across the globe. There is a history to this. Our relationship with music goes back to our founder Jack himself. He knew that a good whiskey is a great way of bringing people together and back in 1892, he created his own neighbourhood brand called the Silver Cornet musical band for the people of Lynchburg Tennessee. We also celebrate Jack's birthday in the month of September across the world.”

Agrawal said he is happy that mixology is being looked upon as an art and not just a layman job. “Cocktail making is being seen more as a craft now and that is one thing, which is very different from before. So you see more and more people getting interested, not just in the recipe but also in the way it is presented. The cocktail culture is here to stay.”

All the brands from Brown Forman are in the premium range and hence it is still an aspirational segment for a lot of youth. When asked whether millennials in India are different from those abroad, Agrawal said, “The millennials are too connected to their counterparts across the globe and hence the behaviour and levels of awareness are quite similar. Otherwise too, people are travelling abroad and bringing a lot of international trends to India.”

The company recently launched a new range called the Jack Daniels single barrel personal collection. The customer gets an opportunity to buy the whole barrel and to choose the flavour profile of the whiskey. Each bottle filled from this barrel is customised with the customer’s name on the sticker of the bottle. Delhi duty-free was the first consumer in India.”

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