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Southlake Style

Q&A: Global CMO Lee Applbaum

Jun 03, 2015 02:48PM ● By Dia

When Patrón was launched in 1989, the world was introduced to ultra-premium tequila. Today, Patrón accounts for more than 70 percent of sales in the ultra-premium tequila category, and the company has steadily expanded worldwide distribution to countries in Asia, Europe and South America. Global Chief Marketing Officer Lee Applbaum heads up the global sales and marketing offices, which are located in Southlake.

You were recently awarded The CMO’s Club Creativity Award. In what ways do you see yourself as a creative person?

While I am certainly honored by the recognition, the reality is that it is far more a reflection on the equila Patrón brand and organization than specifically on my work. I have the distinction of leading the global marketing organization, and as such, shepherding the brand, but the reality is that it takes a worldclass team to deliver truly breakthrough, creative work.

I like to think about our creativity more in terms of being innovative— ensuring that we are staying on top of the latest consumer and lifestyle trends and then delivering creative, programs, and experiences that support our positioning and tell our unique brand story and commitment to making the world’s best, artisanal tequila.

Trends in marketing via social media and multimedia channels have exploded over the past fi e years or so. How do these fit in o what you are accomplishing at Patrón Spirits?

Despite our leadership position (we have nearly a 70-percent market share in ultra-premium tequila), it’s staggering to think about the fact that until 2014 we really didn’t have a disciplined digital or social practice, and in some ways, weren’t even participating in some very basic platforms.

We launched our Twitter account (@patron) in mid-2014 and in a few short months had the largest spirits brand globally on the platform. That’s a reflection of the orld-class team that I have leading digital and social, but also consumers’ affinity or our brand and a reflection on h w passionate they are about engaging with it. We are one of the largest spirits brands globally on Facebook as well with nearly four million likes. The key, however, isn’t about followers or likes, but offering relevant content that drives consumer engagement.

How are you facing the challenges in distinguishing Patrón tequilas from the rest in the market?

Our brand enjoys unparalleled awareness and affinity stores. We have been mentioned in song lyrics across virtually every genre, appear in television shows and movies, and are regularly mentioned by or photographed with celebrities, musicians, and athletes— none of whom have ever been paid to do so, by the way.

All of this is just organic, and a reflection on the power of our brand. That said, despite our brand’s popularity, it’s amazing how few consumers and members of the trade realize that we handcraft our tequila using only the most time-honored, traditional and artisanal methods.

Of the Patrón Spirit brands, which is your go-to for a cocktail you’d enjoy at home?

Right now, I’m really into an Old Fashioned made with our newly released Roca Patrón Reposado. The earthy, agave fl vor enhances the classic cocktail in ways I never would have imagined, and there are a number of bartenders around the DFW area making amazing versions of it. I’d think about tequila a little like wine— depends on your mood, the weather, what or who you’re enjoying it with— all those factors influen e what tequila you drink (Silver, Reposado, Añejo, for example) and how you want to enjoy it.

As a Southlake resident, where would you say are the best places to get a margarita around town? What makes these bars/ restaurants so special?

I’ve had some amazing margaritas in town ranging from the most casual Mexican restaurant to some very sophisticated ones at more upscale destinations. The good news is that we’re really blessed with great support from restaurants and bars in Southlake, and never take that for granted, despite our brand’s popularity.