What’s buzzing at The Hive?

Why the creative shop is now also handling sales and distribution for brands.
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The Hive has been getting into new areas of business outside the typical agency realm.

For clients Brown Forman (owner of the Jack Daniels brand, among others) and Bacardi (which also owns Grey Goose, Finlandia and Dewar’s), The Hive’s Beverages Group is also handling sales and distribution in Canada and the U.S.

The Hive’s Beverages Group subsidiary company BF Canada handles all distribution and sales for Brown Forman brands in provinces west of and including Quebec, as well as all marketing activities nationwide. South of the border, Hive Beverages International handles sales and distribution for Jack Daniels, Grey Goose, Finlandia, Dewar’s and Bacardi in Alabama, Mississippi and West Virgina, with Hive U.S. Activations leading on-the-ground experiential and point-of-sale marketing in 17 states.

“No different than CPG companies, our people are the ones in the field in liquor stores, bars and restaurants tasked with brand building and selling programs and building that business,” says Rick Shaver, recently named CEO and co-president of The Hive Strategic Marketing. “Now, we’re not just creating full service, push-and-pull programs for our clients, we’re also the sales team executing them.”

Shaver says this added focus at the company evolved over time in response to clients’ needs. The Hive Beverages Group has existed since 2004, when it was launched primarily to handle marketing activations in the U.S. That offering expanded when BF Canada (full name “BF Canada Powered by The Hive”) began doing sales and distribution for Brown Forman in 2010, and turned its attention to doing the same in the U.S. last year when The Hive Beverages was named joint distributor broker of record.

“It creates a lot more unity when we’re helping to shape these brand identities and are also the ones building that on the ground,” Shaver says, adding this is something it will be looking to do with other alcohol and beverage clients in the future. “That’s working for our current beverage clients, and we see that as an opportunity as more clients look to point of purchase for solutions.”

Hive Beverages Group has also expanded the agency’s overall size to 132 staff, with 32 at BF Canada and 25 each at Hive Beverages International and Hive U.S. Activations, with 50 still in its Toronto office.

This new focus has also come with a number of moves at the top of the organization. With previous president and CEO Andy Krupski moving into the roll of chairman at The Hive, this May saw former SVP Shaver move into the CEO and co-president position and VP Ted Rakoczy taking on the roll of COO and co-president at The Hive Strategic Marketing. That is a group of companies that includes The Hive Toronto, as well as the ones that fall under Hive Beverages Group. Shaver is also president of Hive Beverages Group, with Rakoczy serving as EVP.

Traditional creative advertising will still be a major part of The Hive’s work, with managing director Trent Fulton, CCO Simon Creet, chief experience officer Jen Lukas and CFO Troy Hayball running that work from Toronto. The agency’s digital team, which previously worked as a separate division, has been integrated with the broader creative offering. The team also expanded by six at the beginning of the year.

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock