Episode 2: Rethinking Luxury Branding

With over 70% share of the premium tequila market, it would be easy for Patrón’s CMO to rationalize a conservative marketing approach. Instead, Lee Applbaum believes that success can only be found by “challenging long-standing norms in luxury and in spirits marketing,” and by “always staying ahead of the curve.” To these ends, Applbaum is focused on showcasing Patron’s authenticity as a handcrafted tequila via advertising, influencer programs, social media and an innovative Oculus VR experience.

Meet the Guest

During is over 3+ years as CMO at Patrón, Applbaum has launched successful line extensions (La Roca) and won numerous awards including two from The CMO Club. But what’s more impressive is that he has helped keep the growth streak alive as Patron continues to find new fans while maintaining a highly loyal following.

Applbaum started his career at Coca-Cola in sales after earning his MBA at UMass Amherst. After Coca-Cola, he held increasingly senior marketing jobs at Schlotzsky’s, Footstar Athletic, David’s Bridal, Radio Shack and even spent 8 months in Melbourne, Australia working with Target. Most importantly, in addition to his strong marketing background, Applbaum knows how to mix the perfect margarita, a skill that comes in handy remarkably often in his current role.

What You'll Learn

  • Why it helps to diverge from category norms
  • The benefits of brand transparency and authenticity
  • How to keep growing your brand even if you’re the largest in your category

Quotes from Lee Applebaum

  • For us, being a renegade and me specifically is about challenging long-standing norms in luxury and in spirits marketing.
  • We have very honest, artisanal handmade products so this idea of being as transparent and open and honest as possible, talking about our product that way, in a way that is still upscale, is something that is not done often in luxury.
  • For us, social media is a channel we use to harness and amplify an organic consumer conversation.
  • The irony is the harder you work to market yourself, the less genuine you appear.
  • I think for us, it’s about harnessing marketing programs, tactics, tools, technologies, to continue to showcase that innovation.
  • Unfortunately, I think the pendulum has gone so far, and no disrespect to the importance of an education, but I think now we see marketing departments full of PhDs that look strictly at the data and ignore the gut instinct.
  • We spend a fair amount of time looking at what other world-class brands are doing, but at the end of the day nothing replaces spending time with our consumers.
  • They talk about EQ and IQ and I think that high IQ marketers need a little more EQ and take a step back and simplify what we do, whether it’s messaging or media or the way in which we think about consumer behavior.

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