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Diageo ‘not walking away’ from Masters of Whisky

Diageo is “not walking away” from its ambassador programme, and is “simply revising [its] approach” by launching a new on-premise education resource, according to Reserve brands president Stephen Rust.

Rust says Diageo is “simply revising [its] approach” to its ambassador programme
Following recent reports that Diageo is planning to discontinue its long-running Masters of Whisky education and mentoring scheme in the US at the end of September, Rust has released a statement outlining the future of the firm’s ambassador programme.

By partnering with Enthuse – the agency tasked with creating a new on-premise education programme – Rust says Diageo intends to “provide a more customised and beneficial resource” that will “drive accounts’ business needs, create additional resources and increase awareness of products”.

In the statement, Rust confirms that Diageo will meet with brand ambassadors to “provide greater clarity” on the new approach, which he says will help ensure the firm is “setting brands up for success” in the future.

The full statement reads as follows:

“Dear Colleagues,

“In light of recent reports around Diageo’s revised approach to its Reserve brands in the on-premise and our ambassador program, I wanted to reach out to provide clarity about the recent changes.

“The ambassador programme, including the Masters of Whisk(e)y and Tequila ambassadors, is near and dear to many of Diageo’s former and current employees, including myself. It has allowed us to reach countless consumers, media and members of the trade, and has elevated brands across all categories. It has also laid a foundation of education unparalleled in our industry and that is a direct result of all the passion from those involved throughout the years.

“Through our partnership with Enthuse, we are not walking away from this programme. We’re simply revising our approach to ensure we’re meeting the needs of on-premise accounts and other key stakeholders. We’ll do this by working with a team of experienced men and women with deep category expertise and a continued focus on mentorship and education.

“As the future of the industry changes, we must adapt to ensure we’re setting our portfolio of brands up for success. We feel confident this new approach will allow us to increase our coverage in accounts, creating customised business solutions and providing additional resources in the on-premise.

“We are not moving away from education. This new structure will allow us to provide a more customised and beneficial resource that will drive accounts’ business needs, create additional resources for them to utilise and increase awareness of and knowledge base around our products.

“As we continue to support our distilleries and the incredible people who create our spirits, we look forward to working with Enthuse and their team of National Educators and Reserve Account Experts to help on-premise accounts utilise our brands and build their business. In partnership with Enthuse, we will meet with all current ambassadors in the next week to provide greater clarity on this new model as we hope many of them join us in this new journey.

“If anyone has questions or would like additional details on this revised approach, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Regards, Steve”

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