The words of a 19th century philosopher can take on a whole new meaning when recited by a provocative dominatrix. It's that sort of new meaning 901 Silver aims to give to tequila drinking through a series of web shorts the brand has created as part of its online-only launch. Since the video campaign's start in late July, the premium brand has collected over 17,000 Facebook likes, and lots of online buzz about where to buy the tequila and how to drink it. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that pop sensation Justin Timberlake founded the company.
In one video seen on the 901.com site and posted on across the web, a woman pours a glass of the spirit, then strips down to her lacy lingerie while reciting a Ben Franklin quote about turning "your attention therefore first to your remotest provinces." Franklin was originally referring to conquering an empire, but the 901 rendition implies innuendo of a different sort.
The launch of 901 Silver Tequila features three video spots created by The Martin Agency and directed by Justin Timberlake. The spots, launched July 26 on 901.com, a site also developed by The Martin Agency, play on YouTube and are being promoted through display ads on sites like Conde Nast Digital’s Style.com, Details, and Vogue, as well as through buys on Hulu, Trendhunter and other sites. Pre-roll ads are also part of the mix, according to Marc Kempter, a group account director at The Martin Agency.
Page takeovers on Sept. 1 - or 9/01 - are also planned.
The spots are :30s and will play on TV next spring, but they were introduced online for budgetary and strategic reasons, and to capture the online audience that is right for the brand. "The target audience of young adults is very digital savvy," Kempter said.
Timberlake himself suggested in a "making of" type video on the site that the company is making an effort to deliver a sophisticated, intelligent message, rather than selling the product in an overt way. "We’re not car salesmen," said Timberlake. The "Making" section of the site includes three videos that focus on Timberlake and were shot by his friend, actor Johnny Vegas. "We didn't intend to do three [videos] and it was clear Justin didn't want to be the face of the brand, but there's no denying people are interested in him as an individual, so the scenes of him directing carry a lot of impact," Kempter said.
Kevin Ruder, president of 901 Silver Tequila, said the strategy to launch online was used because "we could pick the best sites where we know consumers hang out - [people] you can't find as well on TV."
The edgy spots feature direct quotes from Benjamin Franklin and John Stuart Mill that extend the brand's "Tequila is Liberty" theme. "The quotes strike up a conversation with viewers who will want to dig to find out more and view the spots again," Ruder said.
"We didn't intentionally make the spots risqué; the goal was to make them adult, sophisticated," Kempter said. "But tequila has a roughness around the edges that other spirits don’t."
The videos have been viewed thousands of times on YouTube and reposted by several people on the site. While 901 Silver's launch campaign started with the videos, print ads in GQ, Vogue, and Conde Nast Traveler ran this month. And, in addition to the Facebook page, a Twitter account has attracted around 1,000 followers.
Kate Kaye contributed to reporting this story.
June 5, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT