Marketing Maker’s Mark (A): Evolution of a Brand

Case Details Case Introduction 1 Case Introduction 2 Case Excerpts

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The Product And Process

Bourbon, an American spirit, was an aged whisky with specified alcohol content. According to Maker’s Mark, ‘All bourbon is whisky, not all whisky is bourbon’ (Refer to Exhibit II for Difference between Bourbon and Whisky).

During the 1960s and the 1970s, when marketing activities increased at Maker’s Mark, the bourbon was sold with the slogan ‘It tastes expensive…and is’. The brand attracted national and international customers. As of 2013, in US markets, bourbon accounted for 35% of the total sales of the spirits.

Marketing Case Studies | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Marketing, Case Studies
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Principles Of Maker's Mark Marketing

Samuels was considered a true pioneer and innovator, who helped to transform Maker’s Mark from simple bourbon to a lifestyle brand. Matthew J. Shattock (Shattock), President and Chief Executive Officer of Beam, opined that Samuels had reinvented the marketing approach for the bourbon and believed that he had contributed to changing the whole bourbon industry. It was believed that with Maker’s Mark agency, Samuels used to create and write the advertisements..........

Evolution Of Marker's Mark Mark Marketing

Maker’s Mark had evolved from a no-to-marketing company to a promotion savvy company. In its initial years, the bourbon makers were not concerned about promoting the brand. However, with the increasing competition and the growing customer base, Maker’s Mark began to use updated marketing ploys.........

'It Is What It Isn't' Campaign

In 2011, Maker’s Mark released its first national TV campaign, which was aired on the world’s no. 1 non-fiction media company Discovery Communication’s Discovery channel. The campaign’s total expenditure was in seven digits and it was the priciest promotional campaign in the history of Maker’s Mark. Tagged ‘It is what it isn’t’, the campaign included five spots produced by the bourbon producer with its agency.........

Spurt In Demand

Since the first grand publicity for Maker’s Mark in 1980 through the WSJ article, the demand for this particular brand had only increased. The Ambassador Loyalty Program of 2001 also helped Maker’s Mark earn millions of customers. Over time, the increasing number of bourbon lovers led to a shortage of Maker’s Mark in the market, both domestic and international.........

The Challenge

With Maker’s Mark gaining popularity across the globe, the demand for this smooth bourbon exceeded supply. In February 2013, raising concerns over the increasing demand, Maker’s Mark’s representatives said in an email to its loyal fans, “The entire bourbon category is “exploding” and demand for Maker’s Mark is growing even faster. Some customers have even reported empty shelves in their local stores..........


Exhibit I: An Image of Maker’s Mark
Exhibit II: Difference between Bourbon and Whisky
Exhibit III: Kentucky and its Bourbon
Exhibit IV: Beam Marketing Code
Exhibit V: Key Campaigns of Maker’s Mark
Exhibit VI: Net Sales Growth of Power Brands under Beam