NEW YORK: James Curich and John Weiss are leaving their respective roles as the PR leaders at William Grant & Sons and Aloha to launch a firm known as The Speakeasy Agency.
The shop will open on August 1, based in New York City with a roster of seven William Grant & Sons liquor brands as its first client. Even though Curich served as the company’s PR director since 2008, Speakeasy participated in a pitch for the account, which covers work for Reyka Vodka, Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum, Drambuie, Monkey Shoulder, Hudson Whiskey, Ancho Reyes, and Montelobos Mezcal.
"One of our core company values at William Grant & Sons is to be entrepreneurial, and we encourage our team to take this to heart," said Harvey Purchese, SVP of marketing at the company, via email. "For that reason, and for the impressive strategic and creative programs the team has proposed on behalf of our premium spirits brands, we are very proud to be The Speakeasy Agency’s foundation client."
Exposure previously handled communications for the brands. Representatives from Exposure were not immediately available for comment.
Purchese added via email that Speakeasy’s work will "complement the efforts of the Magrino Agency, which continues to deliver exceptional results on our brands including Glenfiddich, The Balvenie, and Hendrick’s Gin."
Both Curich and Weiss previously worked at the Magrino Agency.
Curich, whose last day at William Grant will be Friday, said the company is searching for his replacement. Weiss is also finishing up at Aloha at the end of the month, and he said the health and wellness company has not yet named his successor. "[Weiss] and I have always wanted to create our own agency," explained Curich. "Over the course of our [14-year] friendship and professional relationship, we’ve worked together so well and we share a common vision and work ethic, so when it came time to really start thinking about this, I knew there was no better partner."
Speakeasy’s work will range across areas that interest Curich and Weiss.
"The kinds of things we’ve been able to work on have been things we’re passionate about, and we’re going to let that help define the agency as it evolves, so it will be things like food and wine, exceptional spirits, travel and hospitality, corporate communications, and corporate positioning," explained Curich.
Speakeasy has one other staffer: Marissa Cassinelli, previously associate PR manager at William Grant & Sons. Her title is account manager.
Speakeasy’s name comes from the concept of people finding out about Prohibition-era bars from word-of-mouth, relaying a sense of community, said Curich. He added that traditional speakeasy bars are timeless and classic, while new speakeasy-style bars are creative and fun, so the firm wanted to harness all those qualities in its name.