Eddy Guerra, a senior brand manager at Altadis U.S.A., has worked in the tobacco industry for several years as a creative director and experienced brand marketer. Early in his career, Guerra served as the marketing and creative director for the global luxury lifestyle hospitality brand Nikki Beach, based in Miami, Florida.
His experience gained at Nikki Beach and Gurkha Cigars and his time spent working in Bangkok helped prepare him for his current position and responsibilities at Altadis U.S.A., where he’s using his past experiences in event and activation conceptualization, luxury lifestyle marketing and packaging design to market such iconic and powerful premium tobacco brands as Montecristo, Trinidad, Henry Clay, Saint Luis Ray and Onyx.
“As a senior brand manager for Altadis, you own the brands you manage,” explains Guerra.
“We are responsible for driving the concepts for new releases as well as maintaining growth of our current offerings, how to market them, how to activate them, and how to ensure they sell and are profitable. Luckily, we have an amazing team of talented individuals that help and guide us and ensure our success. Our leadership is legendary, our trade marketing department is second to none, and our sales force is unbeatable. You will hear me say this often, but I feel blessed to be part of such an amazing team.”
Guerra delves deep into his marketing and brand building experience, explaining how others in the field can leverage social media to get brand traction, how to communicate and engage with your customers, and the steps to take with any brand to get the best return on investment.
How to Market Luxury
While hotels and beach clubs are different from a Montecristo cigar, they have something in common—they both require luxury lifestyle marketing. When he worked for Nikki Beach, hotels and beach clubs often did major promotions, as well as activations with big liquor brands, watch companies, car and boat manufacturers, and other luxury brands. Guerra got to see firsthand how these brands marketed and brought their visions to life.
“It taught me so much about how to read consumers, how to get in their mind, and how to draw them in enough to believe in your brand and feel happy to share that with their friends,” he says. “It also taught me that marketing a lifestyle and tying in multiple brands helps you reach consumers easier than just marketing a single product.”
Many luxury brands have an immense heritage and history defined by tradition and high quality, especially within the premium tobacco category. As a Cuban-American whose family grew tobacco in Cuba, Guerra confesses that he feels he has a bit more responsibility to honor the heritage surrounding these well-known tobacco brands he works with at Altadis U.S.A.
“To me, brands have to evolve to remain relevant, but you can do this while still keeping the brands’ core values intact,” he says. “The roots of a tree are what give it the strength to grow. The branches grow out tall or wide and evolve as nature happens, but it needs the roots to keep it standing. So, in short, you must evolve and be innovative but never sacrifice your core values.”
While Guerra primarily works with tobacco brands with recognizable names, he also has experience working with brands that are associated with great and powerful personalities, which is common in the premium cigar industry. With some of those personalities being personal friends, he has enjoyed those marketing tasks as much as he has working with recognizable name brands, but he admits they present their own set of challenges and can be limiting for a marketer. All brands must evolve to some degree in order to stay connected with their customer base, but for personality-based brands, any marketing evolutions must also be linked to the personality’s evolution or the marketing effort could appear disingenuous. That’s why Guerra prefers to work with a brand where the product is the focus because it allows him to get creative and innovative while targeting different parts of the market with spinoffs of the brand.