Once upon a time, not so very long ago, tequila in the US was barely tequila. Most of it was half rum. Patrón had a vision to elevate everyday tequila into a more elegant experience that was sipped, savored and appreciated. They introduced a brand of pure blue agave crafted with care and intention and sold in individually numbered bottles that looked like Old World crystal decanters. They created the first premium tequila and completely redefined the category. Then while everyone else was playing catch up, they redefined it again, introducing their own aged Añejo and Reposado tequilas.

Patrón came to Viceroy seeking a novel way to market and present their Añejo brand. They looked to create awareness, garner press attention, increase sales and differentiate themselves from their existing luxury brands, all while educating consumers on a whole new form. A very tall order, indeed.

Viceroy came up with an inordinately elegant solution: instead of a box, a custom-made, zippered leather case that followed the unique outline of the bottle. Gold hardware and metal plates gave it the presence and polish of a Hermès bag and signaled its premium status and high level of sophistication. Viceroy designed, developed, and prototyped it, while meeting the budget and parameters of the assignment. But Viceroy knew that solution wouldn’t move the needle far enough or generate the kind of excitement and desire the brand deserved. So we came up with an alternate strategy, a proposal that would take the brand that one big step further.

Instead of a one-off package, we presented a yearly holiday experience that the target would anticipate with enthusiasm. An item that wasn’t only giftable and highly collectable but functional, that could be used in conjunction with Patrón Añejo for years to come.

Our insight grew out of a distinctive feature of the Patrón bottle. The diameter of the bottleneck was wider than that of any other. Even bars’ speed pourers didn’t fit it. A collectable custom bottle stopper would work for Patrós bottle, and only Patrón’s. And the right kind of stopper could stop traffic and generate more buzz and reach than any limited edition bottle ever could.

Viceroy determined that the key target was the young creative professional—film, advertising, publishing and fashion designers and creative directors. We sought an individual to represent the brand that would appeal to the target and epitomize the brand’s aesthetic sensibility. John Varvatos, a then up-and-coming designer known for his uncompromising authenticity, masculine modernity and rock ‘n roll edge fit the task. But we weren’t looking to slap a designer name on a bottle; we wanted John Varvatos the man, not the brand. Viceroy aimed for a true collaboration, where Varvatos would lead the charge.

Patrón had never done a collaboration like this. They had no process for bringing a designer-celebrity on board. So Viceroy went ahead and called Varvatos’ office. Turned out Varvatos is a fan of Patrón, and was eager to act as creative director for the project while Viceroy executed his vision. Viceroy help contract and manage the relationship from start to finish. It was a true collaboration. His concept: a miniature guitar head in black gunmetal with 24 plated details. The stopper looked completely authentic, right down to the tuning keys.

Patrón produced co-branded billboard and magazine spreads for the campaign that gave the designer branding and presence as well. Viceroy did the photo shoot in Varvatos’ office. We worked with Patrón and PR to craft launch parties and seed stories to the press, social media and key blogs, and chose billboard locations. Per our limited distribution strategy only 30,000 of the collectables were issued to higher end liquor stores during holiday season. Response was so overwhelming, the bottle plus stopper was never on shelf but snapped up in pre-order.

Based on that healthy response, Patrón decided to produced more and spend more in year two and to consider a collaborator they’d never dared hope for in year one. David Yurman, luxury jewelry and timepiece designer, was top on the list. We met with Evan Yurman, the-then head of David Yurman’s men’s division; he was familiar with the John Varvatos campaign and a fan of the brand. A new collaboration was initiated, with Evan Yurman conceptualizing design and Viceroy handling manufacturing. This time the bottle stopper was shaped like a Samurai sword and utilized both new and classic David Yurman iconic textures in black gunmetal and 24K gold detailing. It was a bold, masculine design that complimented the añejo brand perfectly. Co-branded billboards and print publicized the limited edition collectable, PR events and parties accompanied the launch, produced with Yurman’s creative involvement. Despite increased distribution—and a higher price point—the notable bottle-plus-stopper once again sold out in a blink.

Viceroy understood that marketing a luxury brand required a distinctive approach. One that respected the core values of the premium parent brand while elevating the newcomer to an even higher status. Our solution solved the original asks—awareness, PR, sales, differentiation and education—while laying out a blueprint for continued brand equity building. Viceroy went beyond a limited edition strategy to create a platform of collaboration with noted creative visionaries. We delivered a campaign that not only gave Patrón Añejo high visibility and desirability but also ensured the brand would stay top of mind year after year.