brands under fire
Posted by Abe Sauer on September 28, 2010 11:35 AM
Anyone who has watched the first few weeks of NFL football games has seen the ads for 1800 Tequila. "What can your top do?" accusingly asks Sopranos star Michael Imperioli of a bottle of Patrón brand tequila. His answer: "Nuthin.'" In another spot, Imperioli kicks the Patrón bottle off a table, adding, "Oops."
The ads are not new but they are playing in heavier rotation than ever during NFL broadcasts, the perfect tequila-drinking demographic. They're dramatic, and effective. So why isn't Patrón responding?
The ads are part of a $15 million campaign launched last autumn by 1800 parent company Proximo Spirits to capture more of the annual 11 million case tequila market and distance the brand from its Jose Cuervo heritage. (The brand was formerly called Cuervo 1800.)
By going directly after Patrón, 1800 has made an ingenious move. The brand is defining itself in the minds of consumers as Patrón's direct, high-end competition, a move that automatically moves 1800 away from its down-market Jose Cuervo roots, positioning it to grab more of a tequila market that has nearly doubled in the last decade and has been called "the new champagne." It's a shot of genius.
So why isn't Patrón responding? The ad with the shot top (above) is especially harmful to the Patrón brand. Patrón may hope that by not responding it does not dignify 1800's insistence that the brands are equal. But the mocking ad is the epitome of the old maxim that a brand must define itself, or it will be defined.
The curious thing is that Patrón would only need a single response highlighting a creative use of its trademark wooden ball. But whatever the response, the brand really should do it soon, as 1800 appears unwilling to let up.