Asian Spirit Brand: U. S. Launch

Scene at Macao Trading Co. in TribecaMughal Ventures collaborated with phase1 marketing on the
U. S. launch of an iconic Thai Spirit brand,
employing a two-tiered trade awareness and consumer event marketing program in New York City.

As part of a cocktail menu-focused, buzz-building approach, the Thai Spirit brand initially limited its distribution and marketing to insider and mixology-oriented bars and lounges including Employees Only, Macao Trading Co., Apothéke, Double Crown, and Freemans.

A VIP private event was held at The Box in January 2009, located at the end of Freeman Alley in Manhattan’s hip and gritty Lower East Side neighborhood. The effect resembled a back alley in Thailand. A bright yellow Swan Head (the brand’s icon) was painted on the otherwise unmarked club’s door to indicate the entrance to the event.

The Thai Spirit Brand’s new cocktail society, Ports of Call, launched in Summer 2009. The Society is now hosting regular cocktail gatherings at many of the Thai Spirit brand’s high-end mixology accounts including The Box, Double Crown, Tillman’s Bar & Lounge, Elizabeth, Freemans, Blue Owl, East Side Company Bar, Elsa, Lure Fishbar, B Flat, The Randolph at Broome, Apothéke, 60 Thompson, Macao Trading Co., The Jane Hotel, and Kingswood, to name a few.

The Ports of Call program is marketed through an organically developed database of thousands of upscale, socially active consumers - all interested in cocktails and going out to high-end mixology accounts. Members receive invitations to insider cocktail events and perks that include special Thai Spirit brand cocktails for members only, specially priced cocktail menus, food pairings, prizes, or guaranteed admission to the newest hot spots. The events are also marketed through a Facebook Fan Page and Twitter.

Cyllan Hicks of Tillman’s says that "customers are enjoying these promotions 100% - we love that we are introducing the cocktails to new people and simultaneously getting new customers. Turnout has been great. We ordered the other week and we are already down to just a few bottles - looking forward to another Ports of Call soon."

By creating long-term partnerships with each account, the Society has been successful at bringing in consumers who are there to purchase, generating additional revenue for the account. "We love the Ports of Call events, they bring in a large crowd of people who spend a lot of money at a time when we are usually dead," says Daniel Bernabe, General Manager at Elizabeth. "After [the last event] was over, people stayed and kept ordering cocktails at regular prices, but importantly for us, people ordered food as well. Ports of Call depletes a lot of the Thai Spirit brand and has led me to order more."

As a result of the campaign’s success to date, the brand is now available at over 100 select restaurants, bars, and lounges in New York City.