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Top 10 marketing moves in May 2023

From a summer Spritz campaign to Suntory’s partnership with actor Keanu Reeves, May was awash with creative marketing steps among spirits brands.

Actor Keanu Reeves teamed up with House of Suntory for its centennial celebration

An iconic bottle redesign from apéritif Campari, marking a century with Cutty Sark Scotch whisky – oh, and House of Suntory partnering with both The Matrix star Keanu Reeves and filmmaker Sofia Coppola, to name a few of the top marketing moves that took place in May.

We’ve rounded up the campaigns and partnerships that stood out last month, including a summer Spritz campaign from Franklin & Sons, and Mount Gay Rum’s long-standing support of yacht racing.

Scroll on for the marketing moves that stood out in May.

For more marketing round-ups, check out the top 10 list from April.

Writers’ Tears draws a crowd

Irish whiskey brand Writers’ Tears is the title sponsor of Ireland’s street art festival Waterford Walls.

The Waterford Walls International Street Art Festival, which is in its ninth year, will run from 11 to 20 August.

More than 26 national and international artists will come together for 10 days to present their art. Blank spaces in the area will be turned into large-scale murals.

Writers’ Tears global brand director Clare Minnock said: “Writers’ Tears is a brand that pays tribute to Ireland’s innovative distillers and creative thinkers of the late 19th and early 20th century. Today we celebrate creativity in all its forms, including this vibrant showcase of street art. We are excited to partner with such a dynamic and energetic festival, one that mirrors our own enthusiasm for creativity and self-expression.”

Fourteen countries will be represented at the street art festival.

Havana Club in Cuban spirit

Rum brand Havana Club launched its Cuban Mode campaign in the UK with a multi-million-pound push.

The Pernod Ricard-owned brand will push out its campaign on digital, social and video platforms, with an aim to spread the “spirit of la Cubanía” (spirit of the Cuban), and invite rum lovers to switch on their Cuban mode.

Josh McCarthy, brand director at Pernod Ricard UK, said: “La Cubanía is the essence and lifestyle born in the streets of Havana, but it is meant to be felt by everyone everywhere. Over the past few years we’ve built a solid position as a street culture icon among Generation Z, and we’re confident this campaign will further accelerate brand growth.”

Portofino Dry Gin bags a great deal

The new line of bags includes

Italian brand Portofino Dry Gin has collaborated with bag designer My Style Bags to roll out the Riviera Getaway Capsule Collection.

The two brands have partnered to create a bag line inspired by the ‘aesthetics’ of the Italian Riviera, which can be personalised with embroidered initials and names.

The range includes two travel bags, with a matching beauty case inside, a straw basket, a beach bag, and a picnic kit.

The picnic kit is lined with fine stripes and contains two glasses, two 50ml Portofino Dry Gin bottles, and four Fever-Tree tonics.

The straw trousse retails for €75 (US$82), while the beauty case can be bought for €85 (US$93). The larger travel bags, both linen and straw, retail for €295 (US$323).

Desolas lands listing at steakhouse group


Mezcal brand Desolas has created a cocktail that will be served at steakhouse chain Fogo de Chão in the US.

The mezcal was founded in 2020 by GG Mervis, who spent more than a decade working in the spirits industry, and developed a passion for mezcal.

The Yellowbird cocktail will be served at steakhouse Fogo de Chão as part of its updated cocktail menu in California, Texas, Florida, and New York. The serve comprises Desolas Mezcal, passion fruit, pineapple, Cointreau, and La Marca Prosecco.

Mirvis said: “We are honoured to be included as one of their newest options on their cocktail menu.

“Having the support from Fogo De Chão felt like a natural fit that aligns well with our brand.”

Cutty Sark marks its century with campaign


Scotch whisky brand Cutty Sark has debuted a video marketing campaign, called Never Ending Adventure, to mark its 100th anniversary.

Owned by La Martiniquaise-Bardinet, the brand has created the campaign to celebrate 100 years since Cutty Sark was founded, in 1923.

The ad presents a Cutty Sark ship sailing through turbulent seas in a storm, before panning into the boat’s interior. The video, set to an upbeat hip-hop song, presents numerous animations of the brand’s history through the ages.

Manon Brochet, the Scotch whisky firm’s brand manager, said: “We are very excited to let our consumers and whisky lovers immerse themselves in the brand’s epic history, and discover all the iconic parts of our story.”

Reeves and Coppola team up for Suntory

To mark its 100th anniversary this year, House of Suntory has partnered with actor Keanu Reeves and filmmaker Sofia Coppola on a new marketing campaign.

Coppola, director of Tokyo-based film Lost in Translation, has created the Suntory Anniversary Tribute, a short video that tells the story behind the Japanese whisky maker, which features John Wick actor Reeves, who previously appeared in a Suntory Reserve advert in 1992.

“I’m honoured to partner with Suntory Whisky again 30 years after our Suntory Reserve campaign,” Reeves said. “I’m a huge fan of Suntory Whisky.”

Mount Gay sets sail with 31 Race Circuit


Long-standing supporter of yacht racing, Mount Gay rum, has been named the official partner of the 31 Race Circuit and UK Cape 31 Class.

The partnership was launched at Round 1 on 20 May with an Aprés Sail party at the base in Hamble, Hampshire.

George Neep, Mount Gay’s UK brand manager, said: “Sailing has been part of Mount Gay’s DNA for many years, and is now firmly embedded in the sailing community culture. We are very proud to continue our collaborations within this sport and sponsor this prestigious and growing class of boats, and look forward to many more years of partnership”

The brand launched limited edition hats, called Cape 31 red caps, as a nod to the partnership, which are said to be synonymous with the sailing crowd.

Patrón pushes Palomas


Patrón marked International Paloma Day on 22 May with activations in four London bars.

The Bacardi-owned brand will be celebrating the cocktail throughout the summer, with private masterclasses hosted by UK brand ambassador Gianluca Canella, but for 10 days in May, the cocktail was highlighted at One Hundred Shoreditch, Homeboy in Islington, Bethnal Green’s Satan’s Whiskers, and Southwark seafood restaurant Seabird.

The brand also provided consumers with the recipe to make the Patrón Perfect Paloma at home: 45ml Patrón Reposado, 90ml fresh grapefruit juice, 15ml agave syrup (1:1), 15ml freshly-squeezed lime juice, 30ml sparkling water, a pinch of salt, and a grapefruit slice for garnish.

Franklin & Sons’ Spritz hits

Tonic and mixer brand Franklin & Sons has unveiled its Remarkable Summer of Spritz marketing campaign.

The seasonal push will include immersive Spritz terraces with in-venue activations, plus a selection of Spritz serves that incorporate a variety of spirits from Tequila to whiskey, as well as a variety of sparkling and still wines paired with sodas and tonics, all of which will highlight the breadth of the category, and showcase opportunities for Spritz serves.

Consumers will also find the brand at events in the UK, such as Pub in the Park and Goodwood Races, where the team will be sharing the Spritz occasion with customers.

The marketing campaign follows the brand’s sponsorship of So Let’s Talk, a hospitality support organisation that saw events hosted during Mental Health Awareness Week (15-21 May).

Campari bottle redesign takes inspiration from Milan

Italian apéritif Campari has revealed an “evolutionary redesign” of its bottle, inspired by its home city of Milan.

Julka Villa, group head of marketing at Campari Group, told The Spirits Business: “The Campari bottle has been changing shape and evolving alongside Milano, drawing continuous inspiration from the city, since its creation in 1860.”

As such, this bottle redesign, the first for the brand in 10 years, aims to be a visual homage to the city, which Villa said combined “effortlessness and understated elegance, just like Milano itself”.

It boasts “sharp, bold and confident lines” created to reflect “the sleek minimalist fashion and contemporary design that Milano is known for,” with a modern and straightforward edge representing true Milanese craftsmanship.

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