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If you’re up to date with the lavish lives of young social media stars, you will have probably seen photos like these:
Notice the similarity between them?
All 3 celebrities are holding a bottle of Don Julio 1942 tequila.
If you already knew of “1942” (as it’s known), you won’t be surprised at these photos at all. It’s a common sight to see celebrities with the bottle in their hand.
Unfortunately for the common folk, the chances are you’ve never seen a bottle in real life. That’s because it costs an extraordinary $400 for a 1.75-litre bottle.
So, what’s special about 1942 and how did they get the likes of Jake Paul and the Kardashians drinking it?
Don Julio is a brand owned by Diageo a multinational beverage alcohol company, with its headquarters in London, England.
On top of Don Julio, Diageo owns Johnnie Walker, Ciroc, Captain Morgan, Guinness, Smirnoff, Bailey’s, Crown Royal and many more.
Diageo reported net sales of £6.9 billion (US$9.4bn) in the latter half of 2020.
Tequila represents 7% of Diageo’s net sales, which increased by 56% during H1 after Don Julio and Casamigos posted growth of 35% and 126% respectively. (Source)
Breaking Down The Strategy
You may think you understand when something is being advertised to you on social media. You usually see “sponsored” or “promoted” underneath the post to let you know.
You probably also believe you recognise adverts in real life: billboards, posters, flyers, etc.
The truth is wherever you look nowadays you are being sold to - especially online. A huge misconception is that we are conscious of the things being advertised to us. What we don’t realise is that a huge amount of advertising is now directed towards our subconscious.
Clips of songs are seen as trends on TikTok and then miraculously get to No.1 in the charts. Businesses are all over the news and then the next minute its stock price has jumped. Then the most common of all, we see the people we envy with something and we instantly wish we could have it.
Let’s not pretend that TikTok has zero control over which sounds get used most. Just as we can’t pretend that celebrities all just drink 1942 because it’s their favourite tequila…
It’s a matter of strategy, positioning and branding from Don Julio.
Let’s look at how Don Julio did all 3:
Strategy: When a product is created, one of the first jobs of the marketing department is to identify the target market. From then on it’s all about developing a strategy as to how to get that target market to purchase the products - fairly self-explanatory. In Don Julio’s case, when releasing 1942 in 2002, they recognised the huge influence celebrities were beginning to have on consumers.
So rather than Don Julio running campaigns to try and get 1942 in front of its customers; instead they simply put 1942 in the hands of where their target audience was already looking - at the huge celebrities in all of the papers. Little did they know that this strategy would still be just as (if not more) effective 19 years later.
Positioning: In marketing, positioning refers to: “the place that a brand occupies in the minds of the customers and how it is distinguished from the products of the competitors and different from the concept of brand awareness.” As you can imagine this was a huge factor in 1942’s success. In fact, without it 1942 wouldn’t be the drink it is today.
So how did Don Julio position 1942 as a tequila for the stars?
Christina Choi - Senior Vice President of DonJulio - did a great job of explaining it in a recent interview. She said that at first “It was almost like [they] were hand-selling it.” She continued on by detailing how the brand would reach out and offer “intimate tastings or exclusive visits to the distillery, which is closed to the general public.”
It is clear that Don Julio nailed it with their positioning of 1942. Can you even be surprised when you understand that the brand has been creating exclusive (keyword) events for these celebrities? Not to mention the brand doled out various lavish, personalized gifts, too. The most noticeable being their 21st birthday gift to Kylie Jenner; a personalised bottle of… you guessed it, Don Julio 1942 (see below).
Branding: No matter how great your marketing or positioning is, you won’t see pop stars posting on Instagram with a plastic bottle of tequila. The branding of the drink has to embody the role Don Julio wants it to play. Don Julio positioned 1942 as the pinnacle of luxury tequilas and so they had to match that when branding the drink.
As with their marketing and positioning, Don Julio also nailed it with their branding, as you can see when you simply look at the bottle; it looks premium. They designed the 1942 bottles to embody exactly what they wanted the drink to be: outrageous, special and luxurious.
Don Julio didn’t just stop there though. They knew that the majority of these bottles would be sold in clubs and when people are dropping hundreds of dollars on a bottle they want to be made to feel special. Don Julio wanted to make sure that when people were buying Don Julio in the club, everyone in the club knew exactly what bottle they were buying. So, they created unique and very extravagant 1942 bottle presenters (shown below).
Now when anyone buys a bottle of 1942 in the club they don’t only get a bottle of tequila, but they are able to show the rest of the club how rich they are.
At the end of the day, Don Julio 1942 is so much more than just some alcohol. It’s a badge of social status. In 2021 you can put 1942 in the mix with Rolex, Cartier and Gucci. These brands hold value. If you wear a Rolex you are seen as rich, if you wear a Cartier Love bracelet you are seen as rich, and now the same goes for being seen drinking 1942 (or just holding it, it seems). It’s not about what’s inside the bottle, it’s about having the bottle, it’s about what having the bottle represents.
I think the first thing to understand here is that 1942 didn’t become THE tequila the stars drink overnight. It was carefully and strategically placed there by Don Julio. 1942 isn’t only a great example of how possible it is to place your product as a luxury item; it also highlights the value placed on goods that are seen as social status symbols.
Arguably the most valuable lesson here though is how profitable it can be to utilise celebrities in your marketing strategy. In today’s age, they have an unimaginably large influencer on consumer behaviour and can really move the needle as to whether a product is a success or not. If you can get celebrities on board, there is a very strong chance you’re going to make a lot of money.
How to implement it
Of course, doing what Don Julio did isn’t easy. In fact, bringing celebrities on board with a product and positioning your product as they did with 1942 is almost impossible. However, what isn’t impossible is making sure you position your product in a way that attracts your target market.
You can still position your product perfectly without being a high-end product. A great example of this would be Ryan Air. Ryan Air positioned and branded itself as a cheap alternative to flying. No one takes them too seriously as a luxurious company, however, they positioned themselves perfectly to have their target audience choose them over other competitors.
In other words… simply understand who you want your business to be. It sounds peculiar to talk about your business as a person, but it’s a great way to understand your business better. Decide who your business is and who you want to buy your product.
From there you want to think of which situations your target audience will buy your products over competitors. For Ryan Air, they understand that seeing Ryan Air’s hilarious TikTok account and understanding they’re a budget airline allows people to know where to look when trying to find cheap flights. For Don Julio, they knew that people would buy their tequila over competitors if it was seen in the hands of the stars and as a luxurious product.
This is a tough concept to get your head around. However, when you get it right, it can revolutionise your brand. Just like 1942 did for Don Julio.
This has been a breakdown of Don Julio’s marketing strategy with its 1942 tequila. I hope you have learned something and can implement a similar strategy into your business!
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I’ll see you next Sunday!