Brand Ambassador Bashers – Love Thy Neighbour

In Editor's Blog, Editorial

Have you read the latest issue of Imbibe? It’s pretty good. Those guys know their vino.

On page 42 there’s an article by Nick Wykes, well and truly putting the boot into brand ambassadors. Now I’ll say here and now that I have enormous respect for Nick’s prowess behind the stick, but isn’t that a bit like taking the piss out of the new Chief Secretary of the Treasury for being ginger? A bit too easy?

According to Nick’s Imbibe piece, we should scorn the brand ambassador because he (or she) earns a crust by possessing “the ability to speak out loud, be in possession of a vague insight into the market and have the bearing of a smug twat”.

Spread the love.... with knuckle dusters if required.

Now, I’m not saying there aren’t a few of them out there, but to write off a whole section of the booze industry based on the failings of the few seems wrong to me. A bit like writing off all bartenders because one once made you a dodgy mojito. Or indeed writing off all ‘bar consultants’ for having similar failings to the ambassador.

Earlier this year I returned from a stint editing a bar industry magazine in Australia. The bartender community there uniformly credit, at least in part, the drinks brands and good ambassadors for helping to lift the overall quality of the Aussie cocktail scene in recent years – to such an extent that Melbourne can now have one eye firmly on the ‘Cocktail Capital of the World’ title.

Aussie ‘tenders have none of the cynicism that is sometimes found in the UK. They embrace learning, wherever it might come from, and have a genuine desire to be better at what they do. Same can be said over here too of course, but this feeling of antipathy towards brand ambassadors is a point in case… who cares if a bartender decides to jack in long shifts and backache for a brand gig? Let them get on with it.

Everyone needs to pay the rent, and as long as they try to do a good job and bring something to the trade, full power to them. There’s enough pressure on the bar industry, with recession and government concern about binge drinking taking turns to keep operators awake at night, without causing dissention among the ranks.

Lets spread the love. Go out and hug a brand ambassador today – extra points if you can find a ginger one.

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4 commentsOn Brand Ambassador Bashers – Love Thy Neighbour

  • Dear Andy,

    Please let me thanking you for the fair and rational explanation on Imbibe`s article.

    Magazines sometimes tend to be a little provocative, but as per your reference to Australia bar community, I do agree we should all support each other rather than criticize.

    With my best regards

    Giuseppe Gallo
    Martini – Global Brand Ambassador

  • I have tracked down a Ginger Australian bar owner who used to work as a part time brand ambassador while he was running his own brand/bar consultancy business when not bar tending and I will hug him twice tonight or tomorrow as I visit one of his bar! Surely I should get extra point for that,

  • @Xavier. You only get double points if you buy him a Jager 😉

  • Excellent article as always Andy. Interestingly, amid the recent hail of opprobrium and venting of spleen, you are the only person to approach an answer to the central question of my column – what do brand ambassadors do? Thank you for that.

    I’m proud there has been such a fervent reaction to my article despite it being one of my least accomplished bits of work. I have written better columns than that and not a peep. Poke fun at an industry white elephant and suddenly everyone has something to say. Which is sadly predictable, but mostly very funny.

    To add some context to my point about brand ambassadors let me furnish you with a true story; A well known brand, supported by a well known drinks company, sends it’s ‘ambassador’ to the distillery which supplies their liquid, to glean information from the distiller that they might then go out into the bar community claiming to be the distiller themselves.

    Why not send the distiller? Because the ‘face don’t fit’ and ‘brand ambassadors’ need bartender cachet, apparently the truth isn’t enough to open the right doors anymore. As stated in my column; ‘Good men sent abroad to lie and intrigue…’.

    A more mundane example is the ambassador who you can find propounding the ‘worlds best’ brand to their bartending brethren. A brand, coincidentally, that they spent their entire bartending/managing career refusing to list in any venue that they worked. These are not isolated incidents.

    Glad to say though that I have many good friends who are excellent brand ambassadors and they have not been offended, I guess they either didn’t find anything in my work that they identified with or they are secure enough not to take themselves too seriously.

    Earn a living by all means my loves, but don’t mislead the next generation, for that way damnation lies, and from more than the pen of a cynical hack such as I.

    For my part I proffer my sincere apologies to cabin crew the world over, but for you to compare Ambassadors to gingers; well that’s just plain mean. Possibly to ginger people…

    Keep up the good work Andy.


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