Rev in da clubs

The music's pounding, the black lights are on, and the dry ice vapours transform the black-clad crowd into hundreds of dancing silhouettes. The lone flecks of colour belong to the fluorescent blue liquid the clubbers are tossing back in hopes of gaining the energy to go all night.

The music’s pounding, the black lights are on, and the dry ice vapours transform the black-clad crowd into hundreds of dancing silhouettes. The lone flecks of colour belong to the fluorescent blue liquid the clubbers are tossing back in hopes of gaining the energy to go all night.

The scene is DarkRave, a monthly party at Toronto’s FunHaus that attracts a large, loyal crowd. The blue liquid is Rev, Bacardi Canada’s vodka-based energy cooler that’s become ubiquitous in clubs across the country.

Without the support of any traditional ads since the print campaign announcing its launch five years ago, the brand has thoroughly infiltrated club culture and continues to grow. While DarkRave isn’t the result of a conscious marketing effort, it illustrates just how well Rev has woven itself into Canadian club life – thanks in no small part to the tireless grassroots marketing efforts of brand manager Lisa Jazwinski.

She’s been working on Rev for a year now, and has already re-launched its Web site, www.reverage.com, and spearheaded the redesign of the package, by Toronto-based Z-Inc, which will be unveiled in August.

Jazwinski is also working with Z-Inc on a new print campaign set to launch this fall in an effort to reposition Rev as a mainstream brand with ads that will run in Canadian music and entertainment magazines.

Previously in a league of its own, the alcoholic energy drink has recently faced competition from the beer cos. Ironically, the introduction of energy beers like Molson’s Kick and Labatt’s Shok have unwittingly helped boost Rev’s profile and sales.

But it’s more than competition that has buoyed Rev. ‘Lisa has [re-energized] the brand,’ says her boss Seema Varughese, low proof group brand manager at Brampton, Ont.-based Bacardi Canada. Varughese has just added the Bacardi Breezer brand, Canada’s number-two-selling cooler, to Jazwinski’s portfolio. ‘She’s really good at juggling multiple projects.’

Both Rev and the Breezer are available in liquor stores across the country. At the beginning of this fiscal year, Rev ranked as the number-five-selling cooler nationally. While Jazwinski, 30, has to go out of her way to stay in touch with the Rev crowd (demo: legal drinking age to 24, male and female), Breezer is less of a challenge, since she falls nicely into the 25-34 female target herself.

As a result, Jazwinski has immersed herself in club culture to better understand the Rev consumer. As a former clubber, it wasn’t too hard to jump back into the scene when she took over the brand. She makes a point of hanging out where her target does, checking out the clothes they’re wearing, the books they’re reading, and, most importantly, the music they’re listening to.

‘Doing things like going to HMV and looking at the electronica and hip hop bestsellers [is helpful,]‘ says Jazwinski, who also takes ideas from other LDA-24 categories to get a sense of how she can best communicate with her market. Varughese is impressed with the fieldwork, noting that Jazwinski’s knowledge about current trends contributed to the cutting edge design of the new package.

Jazwinski has also developed relationships with club DJs across the country, and has added two DJ-centric features to the Rev Web site: Featured DJ, which spotlights a different Canadian each month, and Fresh Talent, where DJs can upload their own profiles.

The Web site has also proven to be a great tool for getting feedback from consumers – she often gets unprompted e-mails from Rev drinkers saying how much they like the product. She’s even become an e-pal with a clubber who calls himself ‘Trevor the Revver.’ He now e-mails her bi-weekly, and is a great source to bounce

ideas off.

Those ideas come in handy as Jazwinski is very hands-on when it comes to her promotions – she doesn’t use an event agency; she organizes everything in-house. She knows that with a limited ad spend coupled with an ad-weary target, a strong presence at the clubs is essential for her brand.

This year, her on-premise efforts have centred on the theme ‘Revival,’ featuring an event team of girls in saucy nurses uniforms handing out samples of Rev. But not to just anyone – only the influential, fashion-forward clubbers get the gift.

To keep an eye on how Rev is faring, Jazwinski tours her major markets about four times a year, hitting all the Rev accounts along the way. ‘When I’m in a LDA-24 [environment], I have a Rev

in my hand.’

This hands-on approach has paid off for her in the past, too. Just three years ago, she was a key player in the development and launch of 2002′s number-one-selling activity brand in North America – a

re-vamped version of the classic toy Shrinky Dinks.

As assistant brand manager at Toronto-based Spin Master Toys, a big part of her job was overseeing production of the toy, so she moved to Asia for a couple of months to help motivate the toy’s engineers in person – ultimately ensuring that it launched on time.

‘It’s important to make sure they know you’re right there with them working too,’ she explains. She recalls that when she first arrived, her crew at the factory was very formal and reserved, and greeted her with a stiff handshake. By the end, though, they were hugging her, and she still keeps in touch with some of them. Current boss Varughese wouldn’t be surprised by this – she cites Jazwinski’s knack for winning people over as one of her greatest strengths: ‘She has the ability to rally the troops.’

Including the Rev troops. Jazwinski is continuing to work on associating Rev with music. In the fall, she’ll be doing an on-package promotion with Puretracks and an online contest with Toshiba’s new MP3 player, Gigabeat. Varughese thinks Bacardi will start to see Jazwinski’s impact on the brand’s sales in the coming months when these projects hit the market. Meanwhile, Jazwinski will keep on immersing herself in club culture. Her favourite way to unwind?

‘I Rev it up at the clubs.’

Five Questions

Favourite TV show of all time: Beverly Hills 90210 – I had a thing for Brandon Walsh.

Last ad that inspired you to make a purchase: StriVectin – the wrinkle cream ads get me all the time.

Marketer you admire most: Scott Bedbury – he created ‘Just Do It’ and then moved on to Starbucks. Brand success is about ‘experience.’

Ideal retirement spot:

What retirement?

First job: At age six I picked flowers out of my grandma’s garden and sold them back to her.