When you’ve been in the beverage industry for a bit, you may realize that there are a lot of people who hand you a business card with the title “Brand Ambassador.” Now these people have varied in age, experience, professionalism, etc., etc. so certainly the title has a different definition from brand to brand and/or category to category. It can be the cute sorority looking girl sampling green juice at Whole Foods or a snobby mustached man making you a bourbon old fashioned at a trade. However, in the liquor and bartender community, the title “Brand Ambassador” means a great deal to the people who have worked hard and been selected for their talent, dedication, knowledge and most importantly passion about their brands. We recently sat down with Duane Fernandez Jr., who has was named National Brand Ambassador for Purity Vodka earlier this year. He is certainly one of the deserving industry folks who make us understand what it really means to be a hard-working, proud Brand Ambassador … here is our conversation:
State your Name and Occupation for the Record:
Duane Fernandez Jr. – Purity Vodka National Brand Ambassador
Ok, so we hear the term “Brand Ambassador” often around various industries. For those of us not in the beverage world, it may seem like you just drink all around town. To educate all the peeps out there … what is a Brand Ambassador?
A brand ambassador (BA) is a spokesman for their particular brand. Of course, there is some drinking involved in our industry, but that is because we need to do research and quality control … and we do get the perks of indulging in the products we are proud of every now & then. But back to the BA role, we are the connectors between the bartenders and the brand sales team. Essentially we are an extension of the brand; we inspire consumers / bartenders / owners / beverage directors to support our product.
How do you become a Brand Ambassador?
There are many different ways to become a BA. Obviously, you need to have have a genuine passion for the brand and category and truly educate yourself on every element. In my case with Purity Vodka, I have always have been a fan of the juice inside the bottle. Like so many others out there, vodka was my spirit of choice. Thomas Kuuttanen (Purity Vodka Master Blender) and I met 3 years ago and we instantly hit it off very well. Over time, the team at Purity watched me grow within the industry and felt I was the right fit for the brand and offered me the honor. Taking on this position has been like coming home for me, I am proud and grateful.
Being a Brand Ambassador takes a special type of person. What type of traits does one need to have to be super duper awesome BA?
Organization skills are a MUST and the ability to multitask on various projects. You also need to be very creative with your ideas, as well as your cocktails. Most importantly … you must be able to adapt very quickly to whatever is thrown at you.
What do you love about being a BA?
I am truly passionate about Purity Vodka and when I have staff training and educating on the brand, you can hear and see that passion. I just love showing people the brand and am so proud to taste people on it.
What are some misconceptions about being a BA?
Everyone thinks you are out all of the time drinking and that you have a huge budget to spend.
What’s the coolest thing you have experienced thus far while being a Brand Ambassador?
Being able to visit the distillery in Sweden and being on the cover of Tasting Panel standout most to me thus far. Also, feeling the support from the other brand ambassadors and my team. I also really love being able to meet new bartenders daily.
I know you are ride or die for your brand – but you are also beloved in the industry all around …. can you share a special shout out to some other BA’s (we don’t need to mention the brands) whom you respect and think are great at their jobs?
Oh wow…. There are just so many whom I admire and look up to I can’t single anyone out. I will say this… While I was dreaming of this opportunity, I watched many of my mentors succeed and made sure to learn from their success. We all are ambassadors in some way, whether it is for your bar/restaurant, your consulting group or just yourself. You may not have the business card to says, “Brand Ambassador”… But we all are in some way.
The people who know me understand that I admire and respect what everyone contributes to our industry. So I can’t name anyone: there are too many on my list to name. However, my true mentors know very well who they are…. They have all inspired me to get where I am now.
But if I need to answer … my mom is the true Brand Ambassador whom I admire the most.
OK – so now let’s finally Shout Out your brand …. Purity Vodka! Why are you so proud to rep Purity Vodka?
Thomas Kuuttenan created a something so incredibly special and spiritual. He has never been a part of a trend because he is a trendsetter. With Purity Vodka he broke all of the rules in vodka – the way it is made, the one if a kind distilling, the ingredients he uses and the passion that expresses itself within the bottle. Purity Vodka was made with the hope that people would enjoy his vision. Obviously, the awards speak for themselves and Purity Vodka is the world’s most award winning ultra-premium spirit and the first vodka to ever garner 100 points. But I am proud to rep Purity because I love the rule breaking mentality … Thomas Kuuttenan & Purity Vodka have done just that and now, so am I!
Check out Purity Vodka – @PurityVodka
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