Maker’s Mark is one of the best known and most successful brands in the bourbon business. Last week Maker’s Mark was in full backing up mode when the news came out that it was ‘reformulating’ its product due to a supply shortage caused by growing demand. The reformulation included reducing the alcohol content from 45% to 42%. Surely cause for an uproar and in fact the uproar in social media was palpable. Being accused of watering down its product, Maker’s after releasing the news, drew outrage that was widely reported both inside and outside of social media (i.e. old fashioned newspapers reported this story on what seemed to be a moment to moment basis).
Over the weekend Maker’s Chief Operating Officer Rob Samuels was quoted saying, “We have heard many concerns and questions from our ambassadors and brand fans. We’re humbled by your overwhelming response and passion for Maker’s Mark. While we thought we were doing what’s right, this is your brand — and you told us in large numbers to change our decision. You spoke. We listened. And we’re sincerely sorry we let you down.”
The reaction in the social media sphere also was palpable. More than 15,000 Facebook likes and over 2,000 comments within a couple of hours as reported in Ad Age this morning. The response from fans was incredibly positive.
As the story reads now the great take-away is that this brand made a misstep, then realized the error of its ways and quickly made amends thus winning back the hearts of their customers and fans and perhaps even attracting a few new ones. A thought crossed my mind that if possibly this was a totally orchestrated misstep and planned response to gain notoriety and attention for a well-respected brand it could be the marketing campaign of the year. Think about how many people now know about Maker’s Mark Bourbon who had never even heard of the brand before. Also keep in mind that bourbon as a spirit is enjoying a renaissance in popularity.
What do you think – could this have been a true guerilla marketing campaign?
And did anyone notice the huge difference in both speed and reparations in the response from Carnival Cruise Lines CEO Gerry Cahill last week regarding the Triumph debacle compared to the response last year during the Carnival Costa Concordia fiasco of January 2012? What a difference a year makes.