A celebrity trend is spreading like wildfire at the moment, and you might’ve guessed from the title, it’s celebrity-owned tequila brands. What started with George Clooney’s Casamigos success has now transitioned into a string of tequila brands, including Kendall Jenner’s and Lebron James’.
Tequila’s Comeback Era
Tequila really is the drink of our era. Alongside celebrity bolstering, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), tequila sales have almost doubled in value in UK supermarkets in the last two years, with sales up by 83% compared to pre-covid. This is part of a wide shift in perception when it comes to tequila. Traditionally seen as a party drink, high-end tequilas made with premium ingredients are now all the rage.
The 818 Brand Launch
Kendall Jenner’s 818 Tequila is the perfect case study in the market growth of tequila. Jenner successfully marketed her brand from the get-go. The initial Instagram tease posted on Jenner’s personal account sparked conversation and speculation over the featured unbranded bottle of tequila, and only fans or followers who were truly interested in swiping through her photos would have been able to discover the hidden message.
The next development in the mystery tequila was Kendall’s revelation that the tequila had already won awards after being anonymously entered into liquor competitions earlier this year. This made fans and haters alike think, “I wonder what awards it has won?” In building these mysteries around the brand, Jenner successfully created an element of prestige and excitement building up to the launch.
Is All Press Good Press?
When Jenner finally launched the brand, there was a lot of talk about the brand. The first argument was cultural appropriation. Many people instantly shamed the model for starting a company based in Mexico in the first place. Not to mention the fact that her promotion photo saw her wearing braids and a sombrero in an attempt to mimic traditional Mexican dress. There were also worries about workers and resources being exploited. Agave is a vital ingredient in tequila and requires a lot of physical labour to become useful. Unlike other liquor ingredients, you have to cook agave. Love it or hate it, people were quick to talk about the model’s latest business venture.
Kendall Jenner gathered pretty much every A-list celebrity in her contact list (which we imagine is very long) and had them promote her Tequila. The 818 bottles appeared on The Kardashians, on Kylie Jenner’s Youtube, Hailee Bieber’s Youtube, James Corden was seen drinking it, and the tequila was even featured on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Additionally, she sent out PR packages to huge celebrities like Amy Schumer, her sisters, Cara Delevinge, and more. This package consisted of a wooden box with different variations of tequila and garnishes with which the person could prepare tequila drinks.
Connecting With Fans
Another way that Jenner enhanced her marketing strategy was by taking a very present approach to promotion. Jenner drove the merch truck on launch day around L.A., handed out the merchandise, and she visited the stores. This hands-on approach humanised her. Most of the time, when celebrities launch their own brands, the public is sceptical about how much they actually worked in developing the product. But in this case, the public saw that she was very much attached to the brand.
Clever marketing or preexisting fame?
It’s a tough call to decide whether the success of 818 falls more on the side of successful marketing or preexisting fame. The initial launch of the brand relied almost entirely on Jenner’s preexisting Instagram following to garner interest and excitement for the product.
Additionally, her celeb status meant accessing A-Listers to endorse the products and get even more feed exposure. However, we can’t deny that the way she used her Instagram account to her advantage was very tactical. With her strong connection to the brand, it doesn’t seem nonsensical that she would promote it heavily on her personal Instagram. Since its launch, the general consensus is that it’s actually a really nice tequila!