Corby deal aids U.S. invasion

Canada's largest distiller has inked a deal with Weston, Mo.-based McCormick Distilling that will introduce new products to both markets, and help speed up Toronto-based Corby Distilleries' plans to expand into the United States. Corby commands an impressive 27.2% of the...

Canada’s largest distiller has inked a deal with Weston, Mo.-based McCormick Distilling that will introduce new products to both markets, and help speed up Toronto-based Corby Distilleries’ plans to expand into the United States.

Corby commands an impressive 27.2% of the Canadian spirits market. But it’s a stagnant market, and the company has been eyeing the States as a potentially valuable new territory for Polar Ice vodka (see ‘Cold front coming from the North,’ Strategy, Jan. 31, 00) and its Whisky Guild trio of premium ryes. The deal with McCormick Distilling, the number eight player in the U.S., promises to give Corby the opportunity it’s been looking for.

‘In the United States, there are a lot of these single-barreled bourbons and single malts, but nothing to compete in that price range in Canadian whisky,’ says Chris Chan, vice-president of strategic planning with Corby. ‘We think (the Whisky Guild) will be great in terms of elevating the overall imagery of what Canadian whisky is in the U.S.’

The Whisky Guild will be positioned against premium bourbons and mass-market single-malt scotches like Glenlivet and Glenfiddich, he says, and will target relatively sophisticated drinkers. Polar Ice, on the other hand, will go after entry-level trendsetters.

To avoid spreading its resources too thinly, Corby will restrict its launch to 10 states, including strong vodka markets like Florida and Texas, says Chan, as well as parts of upstate New York. Marketing will focus on point of sale this year, with creative done in Canada but tweaked for the U.S. market by McCormick’s agency, Chicago-based Gamms. The Whisky Guild will launch in April, with Polar Ice joining it in June.

Corby will also be bringing McCormick’s Tequila Rose offering to Canada. The blend of tequila with cream and strawberry flavour is growing quickly in the States and is currently number two to Bailey’s Irish Cream among imported cream liqueurs, says Chan. It will be targeted to entry-level drinkers in the Prairie provinces.

The deal also gives the two companies access to other products in each other’s portfolios, but Chan concedes there aren’t a lot of gaps in Corby’s 60-brand roster. McCormick, however, might pick up brands from Corby’s line of cordials and ready-to-drink products.

Corby plans to spend the next five to eight years building its sales in the States with Polar Ice, Whisky Guild and to a lesser extent, its Wiser’s ryes, which are already distributed there. A one per cent share of the American vodka market would increase Corby’s sales by about 10%.

In the future, the Canadian company is planning to build its presence in Australia, New Zealand and parts of Asia.

Zulu grows its team and makes a slate of promotions

A director of interactive production for Zulubot is among dozens of new faces and roles at the agency, in response to recent wins.
Zulu Alpha Kilo_New Zuligans

Toronto indie shop Zulu Alpha Kilo had made several new hires and promotions on the heels of new business and also organic growth from existing clients.

Zulu could not officially announce the account wins at this time.

However, it can report that Ece Inan, most recently at Toronto design and tech shop Array of Stars, has been named the agency’s new director of interactive production for Zulubot, the agency’s production arm. In the new role, Inan will lead AR, VR, voice and other digital innovation projects.

Also on the production side, James Graham, who has spent the last 17 years with Grip, has joined the agency as its studio director.

Zulu has also made numerous additions on the client services side, led by Michael Brathwaite, also from Grip, as account director.

It’s also announced a spate of new account supervisors, including Hayley Blackmore (from G Adventures), Risa Kastelic (from BT/A), Kara Oddi (also from BT/A), Emily Anzarouth (also from Grip), Chris Rosario (from FCB/Six) and Sarah Shiff (from Rethink).

In addition to the new hires (pictured above), the agency has also announced several promotions: Alyssa Guttman moves from account director to group account director, while Nina Bhayana, Michelle Fournier, Jenn Gaidola-Sobral and Erin McManus have all been promoted to account director, and Haley Holm to account supervisor. On the strategy team, strategists Carly Miller and Spencer MacEachern have both been promoted to strategy director, while Shaunagh Farrelly, who has been with Zulu for two years in a client service role, moves into a new role as a digital strategist.

In December, the shop also announced that Stephanie Yung would be returning to the agency after a stint in New York as its head of design. Recent wins the agency has been able to announce including work as AOR for the Ottawa Senators, as well as a new arrangement with existing client Consonant Skincare, setting up an in-house team to support growth after taking an equity stake in the company.

Zulu president Mike Sutton says it’s wonderful, in a new year, to welcome new faces and energy to the team and says the agency is fortunate to have had so many people across the agency step up to support its clients.

“Simply put, they were rock stars, and the promotions are very well deserved,” Sutton says.