Diageo’s Tequila Education Initiative Takes Flight
Bartenders and nightclub managers know cool. So creating an event exciting and interesting enough to get them to give up their night off could have been a daunting challenge.
That’s why Diageo went all out with its Flight Club bartender education initiative, hosting invite-only events in Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles and New York City to tout the Jose Cuervo and Don Julio tequila portfolio. The missions of Flight School were to give industry tastemakers the info they’d need to recommend the tequilas to their clientele and to provide tools to increase sales by getting bar patrons to trade up to these premium brands.
The Flight Club theme was chosen based on bartenders’ aspiration to travel for the best parties and special events—an easy fit with Cuervo Nation’s Caribbean roots and Don Julio’s Mexican heritage. Bartenders, who were nominated by local distributors, received airline ticket-style invitations. Andre Branch, Diageo’s director-tequilas, says the company knew the event was clicking even before the doors opened. “From the overwhelming number of RSVPs before the event [we knew] we had a successful program,” he says.
At the events, Four Corners of Tequila vignettes gave attendees a chance to gain expertise in margaritas, a new Cuervo and Ginger cocktail, traditional Mexican drinks and sipping tequilas. Keeping with the theme, Diageo ambassadors dressed in pilot uniforms, and one participant from each city won a trip to Tequila Academy at the company’s distilleries in Guadalajara, Mexico. To cap it all off, Flight School provided a 15-minute tequila seminar inside an environment designed to look like an airplane’s first-class cabin. “It was the perfect blend of education and entertainment,” says Tom Tromba, account supervisor at New York City-based U.S. Concepts.
More than 2,000 bartenders participated in the events and more than 800 went through the tequila training program. Most importantly, Branch says, “back bar placements and bartender recommendations increased” as a result of the initiative.