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.

In Brief: The Garden picks CDs to take on daily creative leadership

Plus, Naked names two new leaders of its own and Digital Ethos comes to Canada.

The Garden promotes two creative directors

ACDs Lindsay Eady and Francheska Galloway-Davis have taken over responsibility for day-to-day creative leadership at The Garden after being promoted to creative director roles.

The pair will also help develop the agency’s creative talent, formalizing mentorship and leadership activities they have been doing since joining the agency four and three years ago, respectively. In addition to creating the agency’s internship program, the pair have worked on campaigns for Coinsquare, FitTrack and “The Coke Challenge” campaign for DanceSafe.

Eady and Galloway-Davis will continue to report to The Garden’s co-founder and chief creative officer Shane Ogilvie, who is stepping back from daily creative duties to a more high-level strategic role, allowing him to focus on client relationships and business growth.

Naked Creative Consultancy names new creative and strategy leadership

Toronto’s Naked Creative Consultancy has hired Yasmin Sahni as its new creative director. She is taking over creative leadership from David Kenyon, who has been in the role for 10 years and is moving into a new role as director of strategy, leading the discipline at the agency.

Sahni is coming off of three years as VP and ECD at GTB’s Toronto office, where she managed all the retail, social and service creative for Ford Canada. She previously managed both Vice Media and Vice’s in-house ad agency Virtue.

Peter Shier, president of Naked, says Sahni’s hiring adds to its creative bench and capabilities, as well as a track record of mentorship, a priority for the company. Meanwhile, Kenyon’s move to the strategy side, he says, makes sense because of his deep knowledge of its clients, which have included Ancestry and The Globe and Mail.

Digital Ethos opens a Toronto office

U.K. digital agency Digital Ethos is pursuing new growth opportunities in North America by opening a new office in Toronto.

Though it didn’t disclose them, the agency has begun serving a number of North American clients, and CEO/founder Luke Tobin says the “time was right to invest in a more formal and actual presence in the area.” whose services include design, SEO, pay-per-click, social media, influencer and PR,

This year, the agency’s growth has also allowed it to open an office in Hamburg, Germany, though it also has remote staff working in countries around the world.

Moray Hickes was the company’s first North American hire as VP of sales, tasked with business development in the region.