Campaign Trail is our analysis of some of the best new creative efforts from the marketing world. View past columns in the archives here.
Don Julio bills itself as a luxury tequila brand, a market it has dominated in recent years with its popular — and pricey — 1942 expression. A favorite of A-listers, from athletes to rappers to Kardashians,1942 is the type of high-end tequila one imagines drinking at a bottle-service club long after the sun has set.
But for Don Julio, luxury tequila should not be limited to the nighttime, which is why the Diageo distiller crafted Don Julio Rosado, a pink-hued reposado tequila aged in port wine casks that is intended to be drank in sunshine.
"If 1942 is synonymous with luxury tequila for the night, Rosado's goal is to be synonymous with daytime celebrations and occasions," said Christina Choi, senior vice president of tequila for Diageo North America. "Why do you have to wait for the night to have a luxury tequila experience? How do we inspire people to not wait for the night?"
These questions are at the heart of the brand campaign launched in support of Don Julio Rosado, which features a two-minute hero film and elements for social, out-of-home and other digital channels. The campaign was crafted with creative agency The Community.
The short film, directed by Ukrainian filmmaker Tanu Muiño and soundtracked by a remix of Boney M's disco favorite "Sunny," follows a dancer whose sequined dress and roller skates are inspired by a disco ball as she glides through a pink party palace that includes ice sculptures, crystalline felines and more. The "Don Julio Rosado world" created by the film is a fantastical space with fantastic, modern Mexico-meets-disco vibes, and seeks to inspire tequila drinkers.
"We really wanted to make people feel something, as opposed to telling them, which I think is the way modern luxury brands operate today: You create desire through a feeling," Choi said. "We wanted an idea that really transported you and made you feel like you just wanted to be there."
For Don Julio, the devil is in the details, and production of the short film relied on deliberate decision making, from enlisting Muiño, a director of bold, provocative music videos for the likes of Lil Nas X and Sam Smith, to casting and filming in Mexico, where Don Julio is made.
A disco day party would be nothing without the right song, leading Diageo and audio agency Duotone to pick the appropriately titled "Sunny" by Boney M, a group that has come back in vogue thanks to a TikTok-spurred revival. By remixing the track with additional lyrics rapped by TikTok star Connor Price, Don Julio hoped to update the original for its intended audience at moments that are more rooftop party than late-night EDM rager.
"The brief was disco… We just felt like it brings lightness, joy, good times and happiness," Choi explains of the music choice. "But the occasion that we wanted to own was also one where you would be dancing — it's not 'I'm just gonna fall asleep by the pool,' it's a high energy moment."
Remaining true to the brand
The casting of the party-goers also follows from disco, with a diverse slate that represent a variety of races, ages and gender expressions. The latter point has quickly become a contentious one in advertising, as marketers look to satisfy diverse consumers who want to feel represented in ads while avoiding the crosshairs of conservatives who have dragged campaigns by Bud Light, M&Ms and Target into the culture wars. For Don Julio, diverse casting was never in doubt.
"Irrespective of the cultural zeitgeist, you have to stay true to who you are as a brand, which was why it was so important for us to have that diverse set of talent," Choi said. "Don Julio is a brand that is consumed by many different, multi-hyphenate, multicultural people, and the power of our brand is that we have a very, very diverse audience, and we appeal to a very diverse group… our work reflects that."
The ad work, in its own way, also looks to express a truth about the brand and the Rosado product. While the brand frequently pays tribute to its 80-plus-year heritage — 1942 is the year namesake founder Don Julio González began distilling the spirit — it also recognizes that González was an innovator who helped revolutionize the tequila industry.
"The mix up of modern Mexico with historical disco is an embodiment of our ethos," Choi explained. "We honor the past, but we're very much one step in the future as well."