It seems as though there is a new celebrity pitching their latest indulgence into the distilled spirits world every week. Star power can certainly get a new brand noticed quickly. As you peel back the onion, you’ll find some of these folks have been quietly honing their craft for many years behind the scenes and are in fact true craftspeople while others swoop in to pitch a product just in time for a big splashy launch.
The Risks of Hiring a Celebrity Spokesperson
Stay Informed: Sign up here for the Distillery Trail free email newsletter and be the first to get all the latest news, trends, job listings and events in your inbox.
Recently, the FTC sent letters (see below) to 700 companies alerting them that they are at risk for penalties and offenses due to “deceptive or unfair conduct around endorsements and testimonials.” Here are two of the highlighted practices in the use of endorsements that could get a brand in hot water from Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.
- It is an unfair or deceptive trade practice to misrepresent an endorser as an actual user, a current user, or a recent user of a product or service. 3
- It is an unfair or deceptive trade practice for an advertiser to continue to advertise an endorsement unless the advertiser has good reason to believe that the endorser continues to subscribe to the views presented in the endorsement. 4
The penalties can be steep for unfair and deceptive acts and practices related to endorsements and may trigger penalties of up to $43,792 per violation.
At the very least, it raises the question: Are celebrity spokespersons really in a position to properly inform consumers about the nature of top-shelf, exceptional, luxury tequilas on the market?
PaQuí Tequila Decides to Poke the Bear
What do you do when you can’t afford an “A” list star to launch your brand? In the case of PaQui tequila you choose to poke the bear with an anti-celebrity publicity pitch.
Poke the Bear – Deliberately provoke or antagonize someone, especially someone more powerful than oneself. Source: Lexico, Oxford University Press
George Clooney made a big splash for Casamigos in the tequila category. It’s also true that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson entered the category and witnessed some success with Teremana Tequila Blanco. Even the Backstreet Boys (yes, it’s a thing) announced at some point that they, too, were going to set their sights on building a tequila empire.
John Chappell, CEO of PaQuí Tequila, says: “Stick to Your Day Jobs!”
PaQuí Tequila says it refuses to sell out with celebrity endorsements. Chappell said it was just too much when Reality TV star Kendall Jenner’s 818 Tequila brand revealed plans to roll out internationally within the first half of 2022. Chappell decided he couldn’t hold his tongue any longer.
“Enough is enough,” Chappell said. “I’m not sure how much time these celebrities spend researching what it takes to create a truly exceptional tequila — but it’s safe to say they likely spend more time reading scripts and mingling with co-stars than figuring out how to make a smooth, flavorful tequila.”
Did You Know There is an App for Celebrity Spirits Brands?
There is an app and companion website called GrapeStars specifically designed to help consumers identify celebrity alcohols on the market. Are any of these any good? It doesn’t necessarily answer the question as it’s more of a sales pitch by celebrity and brand than a ratings site but hey, who knew such a thing existed.
PaQuí Tequila Launches “Celebrity Spokesperson Re-Education Program”
To slow the curve in celebrity-driven misinformation with tequila drinkers worldwide, the team behind PaQuí Tequila is announcing its new “Celebrity Spokesperson Re-Education Program” to help celebrity spokespersons understand the process required to concoct a genuinely high-quality tequila.
“We want to educate tequila enthusiasts and occasional drinkers alike, and that starts with educating celebrities who represent the category to millions of consumers,” said Chappell. “It is currently open to celebrities only, at no charge, because we think these Hollywood big shots need our attention immediately.” To sign up, please PaQuí says celebrities should submit an enrollment request to Darren Shuster at email@example.com.
“Our invitation goes out to any and all celebrity spokespersons in the tequila market to enroll in our curriculum as soon as possible,” said Chappell. “It begins with a 10- brand blind taste test, a lecture on the tequila making process from Jalisco-based Master Distillers, a facility tour, recommended reading, and a primer on Aztec culture and traditions to provide a more nuanced understanding of tequila and its history.”
“I think big-name actors earn their place in Hollywood blockbusters, and they have the right to endorse and promote any brand they choose,” said Chappell. “But any discussion about tequila requires true specialized knowledge and experience.”
Chappell collaborated with international tequila experts Javier Martinez and Master Distiller Gilberto Jasso to make PaQuí tequila.