A recent Instagram post by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, has raised many questions … the most important of these being ‘Are you really a celebrity if you’re not connected to a liquor brand?’ The photo not only indicates that he will release several different styles, including an añejo, a silver and a reposado but also that the answer to that question could be coming fairly soon.
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Cheers 🥃 (again & again;) Spent all weekend taste testing every batch of my new tequila fresh out of our barrels from Mexico. I’m very passionate about my new tequila we’re developing. It’s been years in the making and every road has led here. Lots of growing excitement. Mana, passion, positivity, hard work and fun. This ones for you world, let’s have a drink. #tequila #innovation #2019
Let’s face it, celebrities associating themselves with booze labels isn’t anything new. In the 1960s, Woody Allen did ads for Smirnoff, as did Johnny Carson, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Gypsy Rose Lee; in the 1970s, Sean Connery did ads for Jim Beam, as did Elliot Gould, Orson Wells and Bette Davis.
These are just a few of the big names that have aligned themselves with alcohol brands but there are many more. Big names attract millions of potential consumers, which subsequently also attracts millions of dollars in sales.
In a world, where branding and caché matter as much as taste, having a star’s name attached to an alcohol brand can mean soaring sales and subsequently soaring profits. But as advertising and consumer scepticism has progressed, celebrities are no longer just endorsing spirits brands. They often now are themselves the brand.
More and more frequently, we are seeing celebrities putting their money on the table; rolling up their sleeves and either owning the company or taking titles such as creative director, backed up by an equity share. Celebrities more often than not, now have a vested interest in their name driving sale
It comes down to an issue of credibility. It seems that fans now want to see a personal investment in products before they buy in. And celebrities by the truckload seem happy to comply, many not just buying into established brands but starting from scratch to create their own labels.
But not all celebrity-owned booze brands are putting their star names forward. Armand de Brignac, a centuries-old luxury Champagne brand, was purchased by rapper Jay Z in 2014, but you won’t find signs of that anywhere on its website. The luxury bubbly is produced with grapes grown by the Cattier family, who have been tending the family’s vines for more than 250 years.
But when celebrities do connect their name to a brand, it can mean not only big profits but can also lead to a big payout. And more and more celebrities are getting in on the action – after all liquor is sexy and it seems more often than not, highly lucrative.
In 2011, Bethenny Frankel, the Real Housewives of New York City star sold Skinnygirl for a reported $100 million.
More recently, actor George Clooney and partners sold their Casamigos tequila venture for $700 million, with the possibility of another $300 million if the tequila continues to sell well. The pair have now also added to the brand with the release this time last year of a Mezcal.
Yet no matter how good the liquor, or how famous the celebrity, nothing is guaranteed. Even ideal spirit matches sometimes fail, such as actor Danny DeVito’s Premium Limoncello or singer Pharrell Williams’ Q Qream liqueur.
Most of the time celebrity liquor brands are most definitely the marketing gift that just keeps on giving – here are a few of our favourites –
Bob Dylan -Heaven’s Door Spirits
The musician recently announced a collection of premium handcrafted whiskeys that feature his own artwork on the bottle. The first three blends include a Straight Tennessee Bourbon, a Double Barrel Whiskey, and a Straight Rye Whiskey finished in “Cigar” Barrels from Vosges, France. And the brand is about to have a new home, with the Heaven’s Door Distillery and Center for the Arts set to open in Nashville in the fall of 2020.
Matthew McConaughey – Wild Turkey
As creative director and campaign director for Wild Turkey Bourbon, actor Matthew McConaughey is not just the face of the Kentucky-based company, he’s also tasked with writing, starring in and directing campaigns. McConaughey and Master Distiller Eddie Russell have recently collaborated to launch Wild Turkey Longbranch, a new bourbon that’s filtered with Texas mesquite and oak charcoals.
Ryan Reynolds – Aviation Gin
The actor, writer and producer is adding another role to his lengthy resume—owner of Aviation Gin. “Aviation is the best tasting gin in the world. Once I tried it, I knew I wanted to get involved with the company in a big way,” Reynolds said in a statement. The 41-year-old plays an active role in the day-to-day business and oversee the creative direction of the company.
Channing Tatum – Born & Bred Vodka
The Magic Mike star says he dove into the liquor business after failing to find a “good American vodka.” So he partnered up with Idaho’s Grand Teton Distillery to launch the potato-based drink that has “a smooth taste to it, like a cool feeling in your mouth,” he told Bon Appetit. And best of all, the actor has declared “The after taste doesn’t burn.”
David Beckham – Haig Club
The retired soccer star and dad partnered with British entrepreneur Simon Fuller to create a single grain scotch whisky bottled in a distinctive blue square bottle. The global brand marketing director Ronan Beirne from Diageo has commented that David is a true partner, developing the brand from its inception. The product was inspired by Haig, the favourite whisky of Beckham’s grandfather.
Justin Timberlake – Sauza 901 Tequila
Timberlake is a co-owner of Sauza 901, which is named after the area code of his hometown of Memphis. The singer-actor collaborated with the legendary Casa Sauza to create the smooth, triple distilled drink. And he ever did a three-minute mockumentary-style commercial, starring as a Lime, for the brand.
Conor McGregor – Proper No. 12 Irish Whiskey
Declaring “I’m going to take over the Irish whiskey market—and this is delicious!”, celebrated Irish fighter Conor McGregor has recently released his Proper No. 12 Irish Whiskey. The name pays homage to McGregor’s neighbourhood of Crumlin, Dublin 12. The triple distilled Whiskey is meant to embody the area’s shared spirit of brotherhood, loyalty, and hard work … and it is as the name says a proper Irish Whiskey.