The Tasting Panel magazine

January/February 2015

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january/february 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  69 according to Polley. "We have formed a passionate team that strives to over-deliver on expectations each and every day," he says. And that pas- sion extends to both on- and off-premise accounts. "Given the super-pre- mium nature of our portfolio and the importance of building these brands in the on-premise, we have to be strong at marketing in the on-trade. At the same time, the off-premise is a significant portion of consumption and is equally important to the long-term growth of our brands," says Polley. The challenge, Polley explains, is for his team in concert with other key functions across the company to "change the game across all channels in which we play": on-premise, off-premise and the ever-growing digital, social and mobile channel. In essence, he envisions a kind of proprietary network of programs and tools across our brands that are easy to activate for the trade and easy for consumers to engage, in part because they're both compelling and relevant to why consumers are shopping or drinking. A Global Visionary For Pernod-Ricard, a successful year is simple. "Certainly profits are important, and volume growth is critical as well, but value-share growth is by far the strongest measure of our success," says Polley. "It's really about understanding and leveraging the key drivers for each of our brands as well as unlocking the power of the broader portfolio. Our Irish portfolio is a good example of this, with Jameson Irish Whiskey holding a 77 percent category share. Our stable of smaller Irish brands—Redbreast, Midleton, Powers, Paddy's, Green Spot and Yellow Spot—can all benefit from Jameson's position to help expand their points of distribution and reach within the market," he says. "It's simply delivering the right tools to our sales and distributor teams to drive this and executing consistently." As the company looks forward to 2015, the true test of Polley and his team's efforts to "drive more collaboration and deliver more effective thinking" will be to prove the impact their plans have in the marketplace. The question, says Polley, is: "Are we able to garner more traction with our plans, more distribution, display or menu commitments, key visibility placements, stronger brand affinity and support with the trade and are they effective at driving consumer engagement?" The Evolution of the Brand Ambassador PRUSA's brand ambassador program is a prime example of Polley's "game- changing" team-focused efforts, aimed at building a "best of" in the industry. With 55 brand ambassadors spread across 14 brands, around the country, "high engagement and high touch" is the name of the game, according to Steve Chasen, PRUSA Director of Trade Marketing. Chasen and his team are out five or six nights a week, working with people who are "the physical embodiment of the brand," says Chasen. "Our ambas- sadors need to be as informed as, or more informed than the trade, which is a very hard thing to contend with today. As bartending has become a career option for a lot of people, many are investing in education, travel and networking," he says. Whereas once, an ambassador role might have been a job for the party guy with the corporate card who knew about his brand but wasn't really a category expert, ambassadors today operate in a smaller universe— focused on 50 to 60 key accounts, working on "influencing the influenc- ers," says Chasen. Mastering social media has become a critical element. "We give strong guidelines," explains Chasen, because any social advocacy from their employees is viewed as an advertisement, which trickles down to consum- ers, "so the rules of advertising apply. I think we're taking a lead in terms of responsible communication in social, and we hope that our friends in the industry will be equally responsible." Over the last two years, there has also been a shift in how a brand ambassador's success is measured. "We've moved away from a 'hand the keys' approach," says Chasen. "We've implemented a digital report- ing system that looks at daily, weekly and monthly goals, where key Frank Polley, Vice President Spirits Trade Marketing. Steve Chasen, Director of Trade Marketing. Chris Patino, Director of Brand Education.

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