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Top 10 marketing moves from January

From movie marketing campaigns to Lunar New Year celebrations, spirit brands were here, there and everywhere in January as they looked to start 2024 on the front foot.

Marketing Moves
A highlight of January’s marketing moves saw Gin Bothy feature in the US$125,000 Oscars giftbag

Malibu launched a pink-hued marketing campaign to celebrate the release of new Mean Girls film, while Shanky’s Whip began a three-month-long partnership with wholesale retailing giant Costco, and Scottish producer Gin Bothy managed to secure a spot inside the giftbag for nominees at the upcoming 96th Academy Awards.

In addition, one brand backed a Nascar team, another toasted to the Year of the Dragon with special packaging designs, and one finished its project to provide southern Kenya with clean and safe water.

Scroll down for our top 10 marketing moves in January.

For previous marketing round ups, here’s what brands got up to in November and December.

Rebel Bourbon backs Nascar team


Lux Row Distillers-­owned Rebel Bourbon partnered with Richard Childress Racing (RCR) as the Nascar team’s official Bourbon.

The partnership will see RCR driver Kyle Busch race the team’s No 8 Chevrolet car covered in Rebel Bourbon branding for multiple races during the 2024 and 2025 Nascar Cup Series seasons. The brand’s logo will also be visible on Busch’s uniform and helmet.

Philip Lux, brand manager for Rebel Bourbon, said: “We didn’t just want to put our logo on something and call it a day. We wanted a team who does their own thing and embodies the essence of our brand. With Kyle and the RCR team, we found the perfect partner to bring the spirit and attitude of the Rebel brand to fans who feel the same way.”

Hermit emerges in Portugal

Hermit Dutch Coastal Gin partnered with Aviworld, a Portuguese wholesale company with a strong network of hospitality businesses in the country.

Siward de Groot, managing director at Hermit Gin, said: “This partnership represents a strategic move for us, and reinforces our commitment to delivering an exceptional gin experience to a broader audience.”

The brand also announced Rafael Silva as a brand ambassador. He will work to establish Hermit Gin throughout Portugal. De Groot labelled bartender Silva, who was a finalist in both the Martini Grand Prix 2016 in Portugal and Bacardí Legacy 2018, as the “perfect local brand ambassador to elevate Hermit Dutch Coastal Gin in Portugal”.

Hinch Distillery recruits James Nesbitt

Actor James Nesbitt partnered with Northern Ireland’s Hinch Distillery to help promote its whiskeys.

The Hobbit star, who is also known for his roles on various British television shows such as Cold Feet and Murphy’s Law, will be ‘actively’ involved in the distillery’s initiatives, and will help to connect with the brand’s audience.

Established in 2019, Hinch Distillery opened its £15 million (US$19m) site in County Down in 2021. “I’m thrilled to be joining forces with Hinch Distillery,” said Nesbitt. “As a proud Northern Irishman, I have always admired the dedication and craftsmanship that goes into creating Hinch Irish whiskeys and Ninth Wave Irish gins.”

Malibu means to reward pink dressers

Marketing Moves

Pernod Ricard-­owned rum liqueur Malibu launched a collaborative marketing campaign with the recently released Mean Girls movie.

Every Wednesday between the film’s official release – 17 January and 7 February – cinemagoers who arrived at the movie wearing pink were rewarded with a complementary ready­-to-­drink (RTD) can of Malibu’s Strawberry Daiquiri. The campaign was inspired by the original film’s quote, “on Wednesdays we wear pink”.

“Malibu Strawberry has never had such an iconic pop­-culture pairing. This collaboration isn’t just about cocktails, it’s a statement,” said Liam Murphy, brand director at Pernod Ricard UK.

Shanky’s Whip is smart at Costco

Irish whiskey liqueur brand Shanky’s Whip launched a three­-month-­long in­-store campaign with wholesale retailing giant Costco.

The campaign will consist of activations in 28 branches in the UK, which highlight the brand in store areas with high footfall, as well as its newly launched 1.75-­litre bottles.

Tim Dunlop, European commercial director at Shanky’s Whip, said: “A successful trial and sampling campaign in late 2023 saw over 3,000 bottles sold across six Costco depots in just a few days, so we’re confident in Shanky’s Whip’s ability to appeal to Costco customers and UK shoppers overall.”

Nemiroff journeys into India

Marketing Moves

Ukrainian vodka brand Nemiroff entered the Indian market through a partnership with Amistad Spirits.

Nemiroff described India as a vibrant market, and the move furthers its ambition of becoming a top-­five premium vodka brand. Based in Delhi, India, Amistad Spirits has an established network across the country, including in Rajasthan, Chandigarh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu, Kashmir, Leh, and Haryana. It distributes more than 100 premium liquor brands in India.

Along with its connections, Nemiroff praised Amistad’s strong ethics and responsibility, along with its expertise in the alcohol­-beverage sector, making it the ideal distributor for the brand.

Johnnie Walker toasts to Lunar New Year

Marketing Moves

Diageo-owned Johnnie Walker released Lunar New Year bottles of its Blue Label whisky, with artwork designed by visual artist James Jean.

Jean’s design is inspired by 2024’s zodiac animal, the dragon. His dragon is composed of organic elements and flowers, designed to symbolise connections and roots.

Jean said: “With Johnnie Walker Blue Label Lunar New Year, we wanted to create a dragon that felt different, new and innovative – respect for the past but also looking into the future with optimism; in the same way that Johnnie Walker stands for progress through that incredible ‘keep walking’ spirit.”

The designs are available in selected markets globally.

Ross & Squibb completes Kenyan project

Marketing Moves

Luxco-owned Ross & Squibb Distillery has completed a project to provide southern Kenya with clean water.

The project was launched last summer, together with the American footballer’s Chris Long Foundation, and its Waterboys initiative. To combat the area’s water scarcity, a borehole well was dug 80 metres into the ground, with the capacity to bring 100,000 litres of water to the community each day.

Roughly 1,600 residents reside in the Oloile community, which receives an annual rainfall below 3.5 inches. Previously, residents have had to drink contaminated water from seasonal rivers, or source water from hand- dug holes.

Long said: “Thanks to the generous support from Ross & Squibb Distillery, Waterboys is bringing life­changing, clean water to the Oloile community in Kenya.”

Gin Bothy set to star at the Oscars

Marketing Moves

Scottish producer Gin Bothy is heading to Hollywood after its gin was selected for the nominee gift bags at the forthcoming 96th Academy Awards.

A small batch of Gin Bothy’s gin, made with Scottish heather and Scots’ pine and rosemary, distilled in Angus, Scotland, will appear in the ‘Everyone Wins’ gift bag – said to be worth roughly US$125,000 – for nominees at the Oscars, which takes place in Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre on 10 March 2024.

“This is incredible news for us,” said Kim Cameron, Gin Bothy’s founder. “It’s giving us a chance to showcase Scottish spirits with our award­-winning gin.”

Bardinet modernises look

Marketing moves

French company Bardinet has restyled the packaging design for its liqueurs and syrups.

The marketing move was made to give the brand a more contemporary feel, while also creating a clearer distinction between the liqueurs and syrups with redesigned labels.

Lena Rusek, brand manager at Bardinet, said: “By updating our packaging for a more contemporary look, we are shining a spotlight on exceptional quality and aromatic flavours – proudly crafted in France for about 170 years.”

As part of this rebrand, Bardinet is also moving its production of the liqueurs range to a dedicated facility in the Dijon region, the birthplace of crème de cassis.

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