FWV nabs Bulleit Bourbon account

RALIEGH, NC: Diageo North America has named French/West/Vaughan (FWV) AOR for its Bulleit Bourbon brand.

RALIEGH, NC: Diageo North America has named French/West/Vaughan (FWV) AOR for its Bulleit Bourbon brand.

The company issued an RFP and narrowed it down to three choices, according to Rick French, president of FWV. Chris Musumeci, Bulleit Bourbon brand manager, declined to disclose the amount of the account or the finalists, but said that the Bulleit would depend on low-cost, non-traditional PR to push the brand.

"When you're in a portfolio company, you have to make your dollar count and get the most leverage out of it," Musumeci said.

Musumeci said the company was impressed by FWV's track record in the bourbon category.

FWV worked with Jack Daniels for six years, but severed ties a few months ago because Jack Daniels' PR spending declined as it moved much of its PR in-house. FWV wanted the opportunity to pursue more sizeable accounts like Bulleit, French said.

"We loved their strategic thinking, and they have industry experience," said Musumeci. "They understand premium whiskeys."

Diageo acquired the Bulleit brand from Seagrams in 2002, which acquired it from Tom Bulleit, ancestor of the brand's original namesake and the man responsible for resurrecting the company, in 1997. French said it was an "underdeveloped brand" with narrow distribution in the fast-growing bourbon segment.

The agency, in conjunction with Diageo, plans to reach out directly to the consumers through tasting events, and indirectly through media outreach and influencers. Currently, the brand is available in 30 states and is being further rolled-out on a state-by-state basis. It is expected to be available nationwide by the end of next year. The first state, Texas, will feature events in four cities. Tom Bulleit will be heavily involved in the public outreach.

"From a brand standpoint, it has tremendous potential," French said. "Tom Bulleit is the master distiller that we can take out there as a front person."

The account will be led by Jessica Blue, an SVP and partner, and currently includes four people assigned to the account. French will also be personally involved. The team may expand as the brand gets introduced to more markets.

Diageo's alcoholic beverages include Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Guinness, Baileys, J&B, Captain Morgan, Cuervo, and Tanqueray. Bulleit is the company's first Bourbon.

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