Reclaiming a legend for a generation fed up with 'fake'

Uniting a portfolio of brands across borders addressing culture, consumer and market dynamics in US and Mexico.


In 2018 in the US the craft movement was in full swing. 'Premiumisation' was the 'name-of-the-game' and consumers were demanding more of their social tipple.


The tequila market was flourishing, driven by brands at the high-end. Brands like Patrón, who were subverting the traditional tequila associations of college days, wild parties and hefty hangovers, giving the category a more sophisticated spin.

At the value end of the spectrum, brands like Cuevo Especial, who virtually owned the 'party-party' image, were pushed further into commodity status, creating a negative halo on the rest of the Jose Cuervo portfolio.

Our mission was to elevate the role of the entire family architecture, without cannibalisation, to make the Jose Cuervo family of tequila relevant again in two very different yet crucial markets. The US and Mexico.


Separated by a border – but worlds apart – we needed to respect the different emotional relationships our Mexican and American consumers had with brands in general, not just Jose Cuervo.

We recruited tequila drinkers of both genders, who were able to combine seemingly opposite but apposite attributes – e.g. high energy yet discerning, experimental yet questioning – to disrupt the normative millennial expectations. We insisted on 'conversationalists' not 'respondents'.


Semiotic research, insight analysis and collaborative workshops led us to a higher common denominator spearheaded by the lesser known Cuervo Traditional and the identification of a consumer mindset shift between claimed behaviour in millennials to actual behaviour in Gen Z drinkers.


This consumer wanted what was 'really, really real'.

''YOLO' has evolved into the more grounded ideology of 'Living your best life''. – Financial Avenue 2018

This was a pivotal moment. A subtle but important change in the meaning of authenticity, focused on being unpretentious – i.e. not attempting to impress others with an appearance of greater importance than possessed. An authenticity that jibed with the legacy of Cuervo traditional.

Our positioning had implications, not only for Cuervo Traditional as 'the smart choice for those in the know' it also celebrated a new meaning of authenticity for both the drink and consumer. It translated into significant equity and talk-ability for the Jose Cuervo mother-brand, paving the way for the reappraisal of Cuervo Especial.


In 2019 Jose Cuervo  reclaimed status as the bestselling tequila in the US and the world, won gold at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirit Competition and Cuervo Traditional's sales volume grew by 29% vs category growth of 12% (2018-2019). Cuervo Traditional was named 2018 "Hot Brand" by Impact in the US.

Most important of all, our brand strategy had a halo effect on the family, with portfolio growth recorded at 22% (2018-2019).

Our work has been shortlisted as a Finalist for Re-launch Strategy of the year by The Drum Marketing Award 2020.


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© Big Transform 2021