Jose Cuervo

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Alan Weber is leading the charge as Jose Cuervo tequila marches up the list of popular U.S. spirits.

When Mr. Weber, VP-brand strategy for United Distillers & Vintners/North America's Jose Cuervo and 1800 brands, started working on the brand in 1988, case sales were 1.3 million. By last year, sales had shot to 4.1 million. That includes 800,000 cases of a line extension, pre-mixed margaritas introduced in 1994.

Tequila sales alone grew 12% last year, in part due to new initiatives including TV, promotions with radio stations, Spanish-language efforts and installing Jose Cuervo margarita taps in bars. Local marketing initiatives and events such as beach volleyball tournaments helped.

"Recruiting young legal drinking age [people] is the lifeblood of our business, and we constantly try to come up with unique innovative ideas to build a very close relationship with our target consumer," says Mr. Weber, 44, who is making his second appearance in the Marketing 100 on behalf of Jose Cuervo.

Cuervo last year leapfrogged to the country's fifth-most popular distilled spirits from No. 7, surpassing Jim Beam bourbon and Seagram's gin.

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