Welcome back to another installment of the Shared Spirits Industry Influencer Interview Series. We’ve had some great industry leaders and personalities in the series and this installment carries that quality forward. Today, we welcome Kelvin Young, of Louisville, KY and The Brand Ambassador’s Group.
Kelvin and I connected via LinkedIn during my daily cultivation of brand and industry influencers for the Shared Spirits platform. I was intrigued with Kelvin’s company and his experience.
Sherman: Kelvin, it’s a pleasure to be talking with you today. Tell us more about your background and how you ended up in the spirits, wine, and beer marketing space.
Kelvin: Well first of all Sherman, I’d like to thank you for this opportunity to be featured in this series, being recognized for our efforts is always great. My business partner Juan Ditto and I have a background in marketing/promotion through our television show called The Show TV which we started in 2005. It’s a community based show that highlights events, people, talents, and businesses in the Kentucky and Indiana region. We were able to build up a lot of contacts and resources while producing our show. This led to us also starting our new company The Brand Ambassador’s Group (The B.A.G.) which is a marketing/branding/consultant company. We have numerous clients that we help promote their products or services and provide ideas for.
Sherman: You mentioned in some previous communications that you work with a pretty significant regional supplier and manufacturer of numerous brands. When you won that business, what did that process look like? How did you position The Brand Ambassador’s Group?
Kelvin: Yes, our biggest client right now is Local Choice Spirits which is based in Charleston, SC. They produce different types of alcohol from rum, gin, vodka, tequila, whiskey and of course bourbon. We happened to meet the CEO of the company Paula “Pixie” Dezzutti through other business dealings and she was very interested in introducing her brands to the Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio markets. With The B.A.G. we put on lots of events or what we like to call “Experiences” for our clients, so we felt that it would be a great opportunity to include Local Choice Spirits with our events by offering specialty/custom cocktails to our guests. They have award winning premium products so we knew that once we let people taste them, the brands would speak for themselves and be a hit. So far it’s been great, we’ve been able to secure distribution for them and get several Local Choice products placement in retail stores, bars and restaurants. We are still growing with them and hope to continue and grow our partnership to open more opportunities.
Sherman: Tell us more about the urban demographic you target and how your company helps companies grow traction in that set of consumers.
Kelvin: Well we started off very excited about pushing the vodka, and tequila products, so we focused our efforts mostly on those at first because this is what appeals to the younger demographic that we cater to. It wasn’t until a little later that we realized we were really missing out on a great opportunity right in front of us. We are in Kentucky which is considered the “Bourbon Capital” of the world, so it only made sense that we also push the bourbon just as much or more than we pushed the other products. However, being in Kentucky there is a lot of competition in the bourbon world so we knew that we would have to come at this situation in a unique way. As young African Americans we recognized that our demographic does not drink a lot of bourbon. But, we felt that is only because the urban demographic just doesn’t know much about bourbon or the role that African Americans played in the history of whiskey and bourbon. There are many untold stories in the history and we see the potential of using that to introduce others to this great tasting spirit.
Sherman: You’ve shared a passion for educating the public and your target market about the history African Americans have played in the bourbon and whiskey world. Share some of that with our readers! We’re interested in all the history around spirits.
Kelvin: Yes, definitely. As you may know Jack Daniels Whiskey recently revealed the story of Nearis Green, a former slave that taught Jack Daniels himself how to distill whiskey and became the 1st African American Master Distiller back in the 1850’s. There is also the story of famous bartender Tom Bullock who was the first African American to publish a cocktail manual 100 years ago in 1917 which he called “The Ideal Bartender”. He also happens to be from our hometown of Louisville, KY, and some even credit him with creating the Old Fashioned cocktail at the Louisville Pendennis Club. Louisville also happened to be one of the first cities to allow African Americans to bartend which was unheard of back in those days. We feel that this type of information is key in helping promote bourbon and whiskey in particular, and we feel that a lot of bourbon/whiskey companies are missing out on promoting to the young professional urban demographic. We want to help these different alcohol/spirits companies capture some of that billions in revenue spent every day.
Sherman: Fantastic stories relating to our love of spirits and cocktails! What other types of spirits, wine and beer brand promotions would The Brand Ambassador’s Group be interested in doing? What is your vision for the future?
Kelvin: We are open to promoting all different types of spirits, we have a lot of fun learning about the history and we also love the challenge of seeing what we can do and make happen. Even though we have recognized the void in promotion of bourbon to the urban demographic we don’t want to be locked into that one group of people or one kind of spirits. We are also not opposed to promoting different products outside of spirits/alcohol, we can promote anything.
Sherman: Are there other types of clients outside the spirits, wine and beer industries your company is working with in other markets?
Kelvin: Outside of spirits we currently represent a couple of up and coming artists, fashion designers, and even a celebrity chef. We’re currently working on some ideas with celebrity chef Darnell “SuperChef” Ferguson which is very exciting, and we plan to use spirits as ingredients for some of his delicious recipes. We also recently put together a Rooftop Art Experience for Latora Michelle one of the artists that we represent, and she was able to showcase her art and sell a few of her custom pieces at the event. We’ve done numerous pop up shops and fashion displays for the designers. We provide great exposure for our clients.
Sherman: What have I failed to ask Kelvin? What else should we know about you and your company?
Kelvin: I would just like to say that we are open to working with and helping other businesses and entrepreneurs promote in our market and would love the opportunity to network with different people. We are always up for the challenge. I also want to say thanks again for this opportunity to use your platform to share our story.
Sherman: Kelvin, this has been terrific. In closing, how might brands and individuals trying to reach The Brand Ambassador’s Group find you?
Sherman Mohr serves as CEO/Co-Founder of Shared Spirits. Shared Spirits is the world’s first true “liquid to lips” marketing platform for the spirits, wine and beer industries. Think, “Venmo for Cocktails”.