Last month, Proximo Spirits acquired a majority stake in Irish whiskey brand Proper Twelve for $600 million to add to their collection including Jose Cuervo, Three Olives, and 1800 Tequila. After just three years of the Irish whiskey on the shelves of American liquor stores, the Irish Times reports that Proper Twelve has emerged as the fourth most sold whiskey globally behind centuries-old brands in Jameson, Bushmills, and Tullamore Dew. So how did Proper Twelve emerge as a global leader in a space dominated by distilleries with over a century of marketing campaigns and opportunities to experiment?
Proper Twelve has employed the highest level of influencer marketing as their founder, chief spokesman, and former majority stakeholder is none other than Irish UFC Star Connor McGregor. Since his UFC debut in 2013, McGregor has been the greatest brand ambassador the UFC has ever had, and today, he ranks as the most followed UFC fighter on social media in the world. But the partnership between Proper Twelve and Conor McGregor is unique as his Irish heritage and prowess in the Octagon make him the perfect ambassador to help authenticate and grow the brand.
Tip of the Iceberg
But the McGregor and Proper Twelve partnership is not unique as George Clooney and Casamigos and Ryan Reynolds and Aviation Gin share a similar partnership agreement. Although different from traditional influencer marketing, these partnerships through ownership provide validity to a brand within a space and the opportunity to disrupt markets in a whole new way.
With McGregor selling his majority stake, his inherent value to the company stems from his ties as a brand ambassador and the affiliation with his name for years to come. Whether through ownership or simply whitelisting advertisements on a brand ambassador’s social media account, the effect of a recognizable name and a product that fits the audience’s needs is hard to beat.
For us, the most effective way to implement these strategies and to see tangible results begins with the vertical alignment of brand and ambassador. There is a reason that Gatorade does not sponsor Taylor Swift and Diet Coke does not sponsor Serena Williams. The perfect brand ambassador authenticates the product to the target demographic, and finding the endorser who’s following will correlate to sales is the ultimate goal.
As a company, our goal is to find the brand ambassador(s) that fit both your budget and offer a direct path to hitting key metrics. Just as Proper Twelve’s valuation has tripled and sales have increased by 550% since being introduced to American markets, the power of brand alignment can not be overstated when it comes to influencer and ambassador marketing.