Friday, July 17, 2015

Reyka Vodka has decided to target bartenders -- smart move or not?

Earlier in the semester we looked at the campaign developed by Casamigos Tequila, George Cooney's brand, and declared it to be inadequate.

Last semester, Johnnie Walker Scotch got much more support with its content-driven "smart bottle," which stirred up a surprising amount of interest.

But both those campaigns focused on the end consumer.  Reyka Vodka has decided to take a different approach and focus on professionals.  (Faw, 2015)

They are running a 24 hour cocktail competition, in the UK, for 96 bartenders.  Winner gets a trip to Iceland for the "midnight sun" music and dance festival. (2015)

They are also creating "tricks of the trade" videos featuring bartenders showing off eye-popping bar tricks.   Can invitation-only screenings of Cocktail be far behind?

And while they may be taking aim at professionals, they are of course hoping that the rest of us take note as well.

So, what do you think?  Is this a good approach?  Will it sell Reyka Vodka?

Faw, L. (2015, July 17)  Reyka Vodka's Flips And Twists For New Campaign. retrieved July 17, 2015, from

Bar Team, (2015, May 7)  Reyka to bring 96 bartenders for 24-hour cocktail competition.  Retrieved July 17, 2015, from


  1. I think it’s a smart move.
    So many alcohol brands advertise to ordinary customers that people become insensible, but bartenders are not valued enough.
    I’m not sure how a bar operates, but if bartender has the authority to decide which alcohol to buy, I think at least it worth trying.
    But it has its brand spreading limitation. I don’t think people will ask the bartender what vodka he/she used when enjoying their cocktail.

  2. Its a tough one. I guess they are trying to get "good word of mouth" publicity. Usually when you order a vodka or a vodka based drink without specifying a brand the bartender will pick it. Which is usually the cheapest vodka. If Reyka Vodka is a good tasting vodka it will enhance the flavor of the drink. Maybe a patron will ask the bartender what he used at which point he will mention the brand. And that is about the extent of it. If this is the main component in the branding campaign they are in trouble. If the bartender likes the vodka and patron like what the bartender is serving its a good influencer move. I just think they need more aggressive and engaging media to push the brand forward. Its a good approach but its inconsequential.


  3. I always feel like a campaign with a clearly articulated, succinct thought or theme does wonders for the brand - regardless of the market segment it's actually targeting. Even though the competition in the UK and the festival in New Orleans is meant to engage the bar-tending community, bar-tending itself as a concept has a mass appeal because of the visual, entertainment value derived from it. And therein lies the reason, that this campaign should result in Reyka getting the mileage its hoping for - from organically generated, compelling content that stays true to the vodka brand's campaign theme "Tricks of the Trade".
    I also checked out the first two videos that they've released as a part of their ongoing series - they're both snappy 15-seconders in which the "trick" is showcased. These, along with the vine-format 6-seconders, that Reyka plans on releasing, are perfect for social media platforms - thanks to their "share-worthiness" in way of the speed with which the message registers in one's brain.
    To quote O'Connell, I do think that via this campaign, a halo effect will reach the consumers, impacting their perception of brand Reyka (especially if it attains "trend"-status on social media) and consequently their purchasing decisions.

    - Moumita Virginia

  4. I do not think that this strategy will be effective. Sweepstakes is a lot of what I do at my job and it is a great opportunity to offer consumers a unique experience but this is targetting a very selective group. I am skeptical of this strategy.. All that matters is if the liqour sells. Even if bartenders favor the brand, that does not mean that their business will be more likely to buy the vodka. All that matters is the consumers and what sells!
    On the other hand, this strategy could spark a social conversation. If videos of these bartenders doing the "Flips and Twists" get shared on social media, they might catch fire and raise awareness of the brand. Still, the brand might be getting exposure but the selling points are not there.

  5. I like the idea ... I feel like the concept of the friendly neighbourhood barkeep is experiencing a revival lately. With them often regarded as (but not necessarily actually) playing the role of 'Gatekeeper to a Good Time'. Even when one reads reviews of new bars around the city, the ones that do it right often see a tip of the hat to the bartenders that helped create a good experience.

    So putting together two things we've learnt,

    a. People want to spend money on experiences (Like a trip to Iceland or bars with cool/fun bartenders)
    b. 20% of your customers will buy 80% of your stuff

    Pitching yourself directly to your market's influencers is a great strategy. They tap in to so many themes that appeal to the young millennials and do it without ever seeming too cheesy or gimmicky.

    In comparison to their earlier campaign, while I personally liked the awkward humour of those ads, this has a much clearer connect to their target.

    Will it help them sell more Vodka?

    Maybe ... The bartenders can definitely help them get the word out but ultimately in a market so full of nearly identical options it would come down to how good the bartenders can make your drink taste. So helping them make better drinks for your vodka makes quite a bit of sense. Plus, there is such a variety of content that can be extracted and repurposed from this entire exercise and that only lends more value to the proposition.

    - Yuvraj

  6. I think it's a good way to attract less motivated consumers. Actually, I do not enjoy drinking but sometimes I want to enjoy. So I usually ask to the bartender that can help me to choose. In some point, it could be a worth mouth effect to people that mostly do not enjoy drinking Alcohol.

  7. Tricky strategy, if they keep on going with the contest year after year maybe it will work due remembrance depending on consumer real approach to this campaign; otherwise I don't think it would get much success.

    Red Bull for example have this strategy that really works, they promote sport challenges, professionals in sports enforce them, after this Youtube viral videos, ordinary athletes buy Red Bull because they think if they drink it they will have better performance! Genius!

    I think they are not attracting the consumer but someone who consumer can admire, as Red Bull does, but I am not quite sure about how many bartenders are famous to attract enough crowd or potential consumers.

    How good could be following the example of being good with alcohol?

    Does regular people really want to learn that? Maybe cocktail recipes, that would work better, It's always good to have a "Secret Recipe" and surprise your friends at a dinner party.

  8. I like this idea. I think it is a great way to market the vodka from bartender to consumer and vodka is a versatile alcohol which means there can be a plethora of cocktails offered and ordered. The incentive is good as well and ties in with the vodka's brand. Also the pool of competitors is a small one therefore there is a greater probability of winning the big prize.

  9. There are positives to this campaign in my opinion, but in the end I think it will come up short if the goal is to sell as much Reyka possible.
    The Good: It's creative, the content is easily spread thru social media and it targets the 21-35, young adult bar hopping crowds. Those that are older than 21 probably have seen a few neat bartending tricks at their local establishment, but some have really owned the trade. These clips can be quick to the point (short attention spans) and the variety of bottle tricks and different alcohols brings color and and uniqueness. As we have studied, Liquor is up while beer/wine sales have dropped so thats a good market.

    The Bad: The normal target bar patron rarely see's what goes into their drink when they order a "vodka soda or martini". Unless its a fancy establishment I don't think we care either. It's cheaper for the bar to use generic vodka so bar owners won't be enticed unless fan-polls show otherwise. The other negative is that the focus of Reyka is Vodka, and not a broader spectrum of booze.
    At first I liked the give-away festival trip (right audience) but it needs a larger incentive like bartender takes his entire local bar (or closest 50 friends) with him/her.
    I come away from this thinking about a cool art-form but not specifically Reyka vodka. And like most art, you have to be a fan to appreciate it.

    What I see this attracting is the college students shooting their own bottle videos at home...with cheaper vodka. Reyka's may see more posts/traffic on Facebook, vine, and their website but I don't think it will generate an increase in their revenue.

    Side note: Cocktail (sadly) is one of my favorite movies, only because of the impressive bar works, 80s culture and young Elisabeth Shue.