In the age of declining shelf space in tobacconist retail stores and increasing government regulation, it’s never been tougher promoting tobacco products in the U.S. marketplace. While the traditional means of marketing a product—including print and online ads, press releases and social media—all still play a part, companies are finding ways to get creative and think outside of the box to get their products into the hands of consumers. Alec Bradley Cigars, a premium cigar manufacturer owned and operated by Alan Rubin, does that by promoting its cigars through special events with an unexpected partner: William Grant & Sons’ Glenfiddich Whisky.
Rubin (left) and Mitch Bechard (right), a Glenfiddich U.S. brand ambassador, first met at the Universal Whisky Experience show in Las Vegas over five years ago. It soon became evident that there were some similarities between the premium whisky and cigar brands that would make an ongoing collaboration beneficial not only to both companies, but also to consumers.
“Our territory managers and Glenfiddich ambassadors get along great. I think in this relationship, the consumer truly benefits,” explains Rubin. “All of the Glenfiddich ambassadors truly believe in the Alec Bradley brand and, in turn, our territory managers all love Glenfiddich—what they do, who they are, their history and the quality of what they’re producing. We’re very confident in recommending each other’s products. Truly, the consumer gets the ultimate benefit because we are so passionate about what we’re doing together around the country.”
These events are more than just a tasting and sampling of products; they are experiences that educate attendees about whisky and provide helpful tips on how to pair various Alec Bradley cigars with different Glenfiddich whiskies. Retailers and venues that have hosted one of these special Glenfiddich/Alec Bradley events have not only seen them packed with consumers eager to learn about and purchase the products, but have noted that they’ve driven much-needed traffic into their retail spaces.
“We’ve had calls from accounts that we’ve done pairing events with and they’ll call us the next day to say, ‘That’s the best event we’ve done in years,’” says Rubin. “We’re bringing consumers to the next level.”