Launching a Renowned Distiller’s First Rye
Overview + Objectives
Years in the making, Watershed Distillery launched its first-ever Rye in 2023. It was the distillery’s most exclusive release ever with only 125 bottles available via an online lottery.
Willow was poised to elevate Watershed Distillery's profile, stirring up anticipation for its innovative rye program that would underscore the brand's esteemed status in the distilling world. The mission was two-fold: to showcase their cutting-edge offerings, thereby amplifying Watershed's allure and its bourbon collection's prestige, and to swiftly spread the word about the online lottery, sparking entries and achieving an immediate sell-out.
We crafted a dynamic media rollout, dispersing press releases across local and regional outlets, and targeting whiskey trade and lifestyle spirits journalists. Complementing this, they orchestrated a selective sampling campaign for influential spirits writers. Furthermore, an astute awards strategy was deployed to accrue prestigious honors for the brand, setting the stage for grander rye unveilings in the future.
The initial PR push generated local coverage and more than 1,600 entries into the lottery before the paid digital campaign ever began. Sampling was secured with over 10 notable whiskey and spirits writers including Susannah Skiver Barton, Jonah Flicker, Charles Cowdery and Aaron Goldfarb. The first release of this expression was awarded double gold at The San Francisco Spirits, a gold medal at John Barleycorn and a double platinum medal at The ASCOT Awards. The expression was included in roundups for national outlets like Maxim and Gear Patrol and reviewed by The Whiskey Wash.
"With a handful of top honors at notable spirits competitions and fabulous press highlights to promote, we are well positioned to launch Watershed Distillery’s rye on a larger scale in the coming year. We've discovered PR to be an impactful part of our LTO marketing strategies to help us meet current and future business goals."
Chief Marketing Officer, Marussia Beverages USA
Launching a Non-Alcoholic Canned Cocktail Brand
Overview + Objectives
MIXOLOSHE, a pioneering female-founded brand, introduced a line of non-alcoholic canned cocktails—offering the zest of spirits without the alcohol. Coined “boozy without the booze” Their mission was to amplify brand visibility, debut their innovative cocktail recipes, and showcase a fresh selection of non-alcoholic spirits.
The objective was to craft and implement PR tactics that would not only capture media attention but also stir consumer excitement for MIXOLOSHE, leading to increased product trials and sales.
We developed a custom media sequence that included press releases for product launches as well as a new engine for topical pitching and consumer media sampling.
This six month campaign generated nearly 82,000,000 media impressions for the brand resulting in product coverage in national consumer outlets like USA Today’s Reviewed and BuzzFeed as well as founder inclusion in a thought leadership pieces on HuffPost and Beverage Daily, a No Proof Podcast interview and trade coverage in outlets like BevNet and Gin Raiders.
Martini Brand Launch Shakes up the RTD Space
Overview + Objectives
Twenty One Martinis (XXI) is shaking up the ready-to-drink space offering premium (and delicious) bottled martinis. Led by its award-winning espresso martini, the brand brought in Willow to help create awareness around its version of the buzzy espresso martini drink trend in one of the most crowded categories in the spirits space - ready to drink cocktails.
We conducted a year-long PR campaign aimed at securing national and trade media spotlight for the brand’s signature offerings and exciting new flavor debuts, as well as amplifying local market visibility to facilitate market expansion, with a particular emphasis on the brand's home base. Leveraging festive seasons, special events like National Espresso Martini Day, and direct engagements with the founder, we maintained a vibrant and continuous presence in the media for the brand.
The year-long PR campaign resulted in more than 50 stories and 502 million media impressions across national, trade and local market publications. National coverage kicked off with inclusion in Newsweek’s “11 Must Try Bourbons, Gins, Tequilas and Canned Cocktails for 2023”,
followed by a feature in Cool Material’s “Add to Bar Cart” column. Other national hits included an interview on National Espresso Martini Day for Market Watch, making the list in Food & Wine’s “If You Love Espresso Martinis, You'll Want These 4 Bottles and Cans In Your Fridge” and positive reviews in USA Today’s For the Win Beverage of the Week. Named a brand to watch by Alcohol Professor, inclusion in a cover feature on RTDs for Beverage Industry and an editor’s pick for best picks for fall in Food & Beverage Magazine were among the trade coverage wins. And from Atlanta to Massachutsetts and Las Vegas to Columbus, XXI was included in local publications in key markets, including a feature story on the brand’s growth in Columbus Business First.
“You both are great, I love working with you and am so grateful for all of your support.”
Co-founder & Chief Executive Officer, XXI Martinis
Building Awareness for a Celebrity-Backed Mezcal
Overview + Objectives
Amidst the rapid ascent of mezcal as a spirits category favorite, Fósforo Mezcal entered the market in 2022, introducing two top-tier sipping mezcals. In 2023, Willow PR joined the journey to keep the brand's launch energy alive, focusing on media tastings and securing coveted spots in gift guides for the brand’s distinguished products.
We engaged with almost a hundred journalists for product sampling during the brand's debut, uncovering unique story angles suited to their outlets. From in-depth reviews to highlighting the women behind the brand, and from inclusion in gift guides to showcasing inventive cocktail recipes, this strategic sampling was pivotal to distinguishing the brand and securing prominent coverage in the bustling agave spirits market.
In the 2023 campaign, we achieved a remarkable reach with over 82 million media impressions and secured 22 top-tier media placements. Highlights include being featured in Paste Magazine’s "The Best Whiskeys (and More) of 2023!", making it onto Wine Enthusiast’s “The Top 100 Spirits of 2023”, and being recommended for "Best gifts for tequila and mezcal enthusiasts" by The Manual, as well as Food & Wine’s "6 essential tequilas and mezcals for your home bar". Our national coverage spanned Forbes, Ebony, Hola! USA, and Tasting Table, showcasing the brand through diverse angles like Cinco De Mayo picks, cocktail recipes, prominent women-led ventures, Hispanic Heritage Month features, and product reviews.
"We came to Willow looking for a more bespoke PR approach to a very nuanced beverage alcohol category. Molly and Allison immediately delivered earned media results through the types of outlets that resonate with our target consumer. Strategic, thoughtful, and detail-oriented... We couldn't ask for more!"
Chief Executive Officer, Fósforo Mezcal
Driving Travel to the "Other Dublin"
Overview + Objectives
Dublin, Ohio, just a stone's throw from Ohio’s capital city Columbus, is booming! It’s Ireland without a passport - charming and accessible. From vast green spaces and Irish pubs, to amazing restaurants and some of the state’s most prestigious golf courses, this town is a hidden gem. Willow PR was hired by Visit Dublin as its new PR agency to help showcase this easy and fun getaway full of Midwestern charm. Our objectives were to promote Dublin and its key events among target regional drive markets in Ohio as well as Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and West Virginia, plus the goal of securing national travel stories around why to visit Dublin...Ohio. Another key goal was to garner coverage outside of Irish related topics like St. Patrick’s Day and the Dublin Irish Festival.
Our year-long approach was anchored in active media engagement to spotlight Dublin's vibrant event lineup. By tapping into the city's key happenings, we collaborated closely with journalists to shape compelling narratives. Press trips, with tailor-made itineraries, became a cornerstone tactic, immersing media representatives in Dublin's rich offerings. To ensure consistent media presence, we curated a repository of stories that aligned with current trends, seasonal moments, and initiatives from Visit Dublin partners.
We were given a goal of securing 100 million media impressions – and secured more than 5 times that, tracking more than 520 million media impressions in our first year of engagement! With headlines like “10 Dreamy Alternative Summer Vacation Destinations” that are in the U.S., “20 Amazing Cities in Ohio”, and “This Is The Longest S-Shaped Bridge In The World” we secured several sought-after stories that were about more than just Dublin’s Irish heritage. We earned media placements in Ohio regional and Midwest focused publications as well as in markets like Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Dayton, Ohio as well as Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and West Virginia. And with travel coverage around Dublin’s biggest annual events a priority, we secured national travel stories as well as regional and local coverage for St. Paddy’s Day and the Irish Festival.
"The results speak for themselves! Working with Willow has been an absolute pleasure. Their creative approach and seamless communication have elevated Visit Dublin’s brand visibility and they make the entire process enjoyable. I wholeheartedly recommend their services to anyone seeking a dynamic and effective PR team."
Marketing Director, Visit Dublin