Independent Chicago creative agency Highdive has been named the agency of record for five Beam Suntory brands. It also marks the first spirits client for the ad company.
The brands include three small batch whiskeys in the James B. Beam whiskey portfolio, Sauza Agave Cocktails and another ready to drink (RTD) cocktail brand the agency couldn’t yet discuss.
The partnership officially kicked off this spring with the launch of Sauza Agave Cocktails’ “Get Busy Living” campaign. The fun, animated social spots feature a guitar-playing skeleton character, Don Esqueleto. Though he’s dead, he encourages how to live and be in the moment.
Highdive approached the work in a digital-first way, first looking for the character and then utilizing Sauza’s mission that the tequila brand was created to be a symbol of Mexican culture, full of deep connections and bonding moments. The agency used that product truth for the launch of Sauza Agave Cocktails.
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Mark Gross, co-founder and co-chief creative officer at Highdive shared that the agency intends to do 10 social spots with the skeleton character—and that they are currently working on some experiential stunt work for the brand.
Originally, Highdive started out working with Beam Suntory by winning the business for Old Overholt, one of the oldest rye whiskey brands in the U.S. Beam Suntory was pleased by the work done for that brand, however required more immediate help on other small batch whiskey brands, including Hardin’s Creek—a series of small-batch whiskey labels from the Beam family for high-end aficionados.
The first work for Hardin’s Creek encompasses work across a new website, social media and CRM. Officially launched May 20, Hardin’s Creek pays homage to the legacy of the James B. Beam family and their 226 years of whiskey-making know-how.
While the Sauza campaign was fun and lighthearted, the initial Hardin’s Creek campaign takes a reverential tone, highlighting three ultra-limited releases hand-selected from over 3 million barrels. The products are a culmination of the company’s ingredients and techniques expertly crafted by the family who created bourbon.
In that campaign, viewers are introduced to the Noe family, including seventh and eighth generation master distillers Fred Noe and Freddie Noe. It highlights how over two centuries of whiskey making have culminated in these special releases. While the brand is about its heritage, it’s also about innovation and looking to the future for new possibilities.
The work for Old Overholt will launch in 2023, while the other unannounced whiskey and RTD brands are still in the works.
The win has so far produced what Gross calls a “really terrific relationship” with Beam Suntory, one of the many healthy connections that Highdive has with its various clients. Highdive also serves as AOR for Jeep, and has executed some of the most popular Super Bowls ads over the past three years.
“The choice to bring Highdive on as our AOR was an easy decision,” said Jon Marks, senior brand director, global small batch at Beam Suntory in a statement. “The tie between the strategy and the creative was so strong and well connected, we knew immediately that Highdive is the ideal partner to help us achieve our goals and amplify our brand.”
While these are the first spirits brands Highdive has worked with, Gross is no stranger to alcohol advertising. He was one of the co-creators of the wildly successful Real Men of Genius campaign for Bud Light, which ran for over a decade on the airwaves and won an array of accolades.