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“Tullamore Dew is underepresented in Ireland”

William Grant & Sons has ambitious plans for Tullamore Dew that of necessity must include Ireland as Maurice Doyle, Global Marketing Director at the company, explains to Pat Nolan.

Dec 16 2010

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Tullamore Dew’s new owner William Grant & Sons has opened a head office here in Ireland for Grant’s non-scotch brands. This can be taken as a propitious sign that it’s here for the long haul. The company’s Global Marketing Director Irishman Maurice Doyle has been charged with putting Tullamore Dew up there in the firmament of global whisk(e)y stars and with ensuring that Grant’s other non-scotch brands get a significant hold on the market too.

Born and bred in Bray, County Wicklow, Maurice can call upon 18 years’ experience in the drinks trade. Educated in Trinity Colllege, he left Ireland to join Proctor & Gamble in the UK just before the Celtic Tiger bounded out from the jungle.

Beginning as New Product Development Manager for Bacardi in 1992, he went on to launch Bacardi Breezer successfully throughout Europe before moving onto the main Bacardi brands in 1995. A year later he moved to Amsterdam as European Regional Director for Bacardi, spending three years there before moving back as Marketing Director of Bacardi UK and setting up a global travel retail business unit for the brand.

Last year he joined William Grant & Sons, a private family-owned company dating all the way back to 1887 when William Grant created a distillery in Glenfiddich (Scots gaelic for ‘Valley of the Deer’). Since then the company has gone on to become a “medium-sized player” in the Scotch whisky market.

“It’s our ambition to be one of the most coveted branded spirits companies – not necessarily the biggest” explains Maurice, “but we want to have the most consumer-preferred brands.”

Last July the company purchased three considerable brands from C&C in Tullamore Dew, Irish Mist and Carolans Irish Cream as well as Frangelico for €300 million.

It was understood that Grant’s had big plans for these brands but shortly after purchase, Irish Mist, Carolans and Frangelico were hived off to Gruppo Campari for €129 million with seemingly indecent haste.

“William Grant & Sons has historically been a very successful whisky,” explains Maurice, “It’s the third-largest scotch whisky company company with market leading brands such as Glenfiddich Malt Whisky, by far the leading malt brand in the world. In recent years we have successfully expanded beyond Scotch Whisky into gin with Hendricks rum, with Sailor Jerry and now Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey.

“We’re also very interested in the Irish whiskey category as there are a lot of transferrable skills and knowledge that we could bring across in terms of the marketing and selling of whisk(e)y brands. We were interested in the overall C&C spirits portfolio but the Jewel in the Crown was Tullamore Dew. We also believed in the other brands we acquired, but the main driver was Tullamore Dew.”

So Campari’s €129 million offer came as something of a pleasant surprise to the company.

“Campari indicated that they were really keen on having the other three brands which fitted in with their expertise, so they made us an compelling offer which we accepted. We’ve always been clear that Tullamore Dew was the main reason for our acquiring C&C’s brands.”

Now he’s tasked with overseeing the global promotion of Tullamore Dew, to make it a lot more common in people’s purchasing vocabluary – and to put William Grant’s other brands firmly on the Irish map.

Findlater’s currently distributes Tullamore Dew here.

We’re focusing on how we can build Tullamore Dew in Ireland and look forward to working with them,” comments Maurice, “ In spite of the depressed nature of the market, the brand has potential to grow.  One of the things we’re very interested in is further developing the brand in the Irish market as it’s a very big whiskey market and we consider that the brand is underepresented in Ireland. To be credible, an Irish brand must be relevant and visible in Ireland itself.”

He appears happy with Tullamore Dew in terms of the brand and the prospects for the future.

“Irish whiskey is the fastest-growing category of spirits in the world” he says of an admitedly small base, “and Tullamore Dew is the fastest-growing Irish whiskey worldwide. That’s a fantastic base to work off. It’s very strong in a number of markets such as the Czech Republic and Germany.

 

Growing globally requires a credible home market and this is where Grant’s commitment to the Irish market comes into play.

“We need to work on driving distribution, making sure the brand is much more visible in the on- and off-trades -- but also critically to start building its profile among consumers. We’re reviewing our communications strategy for the brand. This will be an integrated global marketing campaign and Ireland will be an important market for that campaign.

 

 

“It’s part of our commitment to the Irish market,” continues Maurice, “By virtue of the fact that we have a base in the Irish market, we’re even more committed. As we’re now heavily invovled with Irish Whiskey as a category, being successful in the Irish market is going to be even more important to us.”

The company will also work its other brands into the Irish market.

The Dublin office has taken on responsibilitiy for its non-scotch brands, setting up brand teams for Tullamore Dew, Hendricks and Sailor Jerry as well as installing an innnovation centre here to work on new brands and explore new opportunties for the company.

“We’re already working on seeding Hendricks, a super premium gin brand, into Ireland.”

The company has six core brands in Glenfiddich, the leading malt brand in the world and Balvenie, one of the leading “esoteric malts” which is more niche in its appeal and of course Grant’s Whisky, one of the leading blended scotches in the world.

“Then we have three core non-scotch brands in Tullamore Dew, Hendrick’s and Sailor Jerry. Sailor Jerry is named after Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins the man who revolutionised the world of tattooing.

 

“The brand was launched 10 years ago and is extremely succesful in US market,” he claims. It was launched more recently in Canada and the UK and is now rolling out here.

Grant’s broke a new communications campaign for Glenfiddich in a number of markets around the world last October in hopes of  considerably boosting the brand’s 800,000 nine-litre case sales volumes.

He agrees that the Irish market “...is clearly an incredibly challenging one at the moment but from a brand perspective the on-trade is still a key arena where brands are built. It’s therefore very important that we work out a plan to ensure that our brands connect with consumers in the on-trade.  As part of this, we need to support our on-trade partners as much as we can. The dynamics in Ireland are awful but the on-trade will still remain important in the long term and we’re a company of brand-builders, so we’ll work to ensure that our brands become bigger and better in the on-trade”.

Maurice Doyle: “We’re going to try and make sure that we can widen the geographical footprint of the brand across the world.”

Maurice Doyle: “We’re going to try and make sure that we can widen the geographical footprint of the brand across the world.”

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