Cuervo pours $12 mil into first global effort

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Jose Cuervo International is looking to build continuity with its first global campaign -- complete with record spending, an expanded target consumer and new brand repositioning -- to lure devotees of other spirits.

Cuervo, the country's No. 1 tequila, will receive about $12 million in spending -- mostly in magazines including Cosmopolitan, Maxim and Sports Illustrated, as well as outdoor (AA, Sept. 11). The "Vive Cuervo" ads break in November magazines domestically and in Greece, followed by the U.K., Mexico and Brazil in January. An Internet component will follow.

Cuervo International and its distributor, United Distillers & Vintners/

North America, want to position the brand not just as tops in its own category but as the preferred choice among all spirits, said Carlos Arana, managing director of the newly established global marketing unit of Mexico-based Cuervo & Campania.

"Consumers aren't drinking categories. They are drinking brands," he said.

Jose Cuervo is the country's ninth most popular spirit, selling 3.3 million cases last year -- up 11% from 1998, according to Impact. The brand is growing about five times faster than the overall spirits category.


The b&w ads contain pithy quotes such as "All work and no play is totally missing the point" and "I go out on Tuesday, but I go all out on Friday."

Mr. Arana said ads will be the same in all countries. All will carry the "Vive Cuervo" tagline.

"It's a very global idea -- very Cuervo. All the ads look the same," he said.

The work by AG Worldwide, New York, replaces the seven-year "Cuervo Critters" campaign from Grybauskas Beatrice, New York, for United Distillers & Vintners.

AG won the account in May after a five-month competition that included Bartle Bogle Hegarty and J. Walter Thompson USA, both New York, and Leo Burnett USA, Chicago.

Ads also run in homosexual-targeted publications for the first time, with lines such as "We are here. We are Cuervo."

The brand's primary target remains 21-to-30-year-old heterosexual men, but it has been expanded to include women and gays.


"The mission was to give a great presence to the culture and soul of Cuervo in a fresh way," said Peter Arnell, chief creative officer of AG. "We wanted to do a campaign that would touch people with a certain amount of reality, something that would -- through our communication -- acknowledge our consumers vs. persuading them."

Jose Cuervo International opened in July in New York to give the Mexican exporter a greater hand in marketing.

The tequila was supported with about $5 million in U.S. advertising last year. It will spend about $6 million nationally and an equal amount through the end of June, Mr. Arana said, adding other markets could follow.

He said Cuervo wants to keep its drinkers from deserting the brand as they age. "We tend to have a larger percentage of consumers leaving the brand as they `grow up,' " he said. "What we hope to do is increase brand loyalty."

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