Maker's Mark misses the mark...

From a minor tweet about the length of time it takes to char a barrel for making bourbon to a congratulatory tweet from KFC... How Maker's Mark missed the mark with their brand strategy. (Note: Date sequences have been adjusted to highlight flows of conversations and threaded discussions)

  1. The calm before the storm. Business as usual for Maker's Mark on Twitter, days before they announced their decision to dilute Maker's Mark:
  2. In 40 seconds, you can reply to an email, empty a trashcan…. Or char a barrel for prime bourbon making.
  3. On Saturday, the 9th of February, 2013, the change is announced. Their fans, and the extended bourbon community, jumped right in:
  4. To meet watered hooch demand? Bad, bad move. >> @MakersMark waters down its bourbon to meet rising demand - Quartz  http://bit.ly/WWhigt 
  5. Maker's Mark reduces ABV by 3% OUR full story and interview with Rob Samuels -  http://lou.ly/abv akMakersMark
  6. Concerning - Makers changing proof MT @MakersMark: Rob Samuels answers questions about the news on Maker's Mark.  http://fredminnick.com/blog/ om/blog/”
  7. Hey @MakersMark congratulations on shattering your image / branding by changing your signature product, your going to lose a ton of patrons
  8. This did not go unnoticed by the press/media communities:
  9. Maker's Mark says its customers couldn't tell when the company watered down its bourbon:  http://slate.me/Y5bAFg Fg
  10. Maker's Mark waters down its bourbon to stretch supplies amid strong demand:  http://apne.ws/VQNizo o -CC
  11. By watering down, did Maker's Mark commit brand suicide?  http://bit.ly/Yb3aw3 
  12. It even made video/TV as well, as seen in this NBC Today spot:
  13. In an effort to calm their fans and "ambassadors", they issued a statement (Feb th, 0 ) on their website (promoted via Twitter) sharing their "thoughts on your feedback" (Note: The URL they provided redirects to the most recent news announcement - you have to actually click on the "Thanks for the feedback" link to see their original response, which was essentially "thanks for the feedback, but we're not changing our decision").
  14. As expected by everyone but Maker's Mark, chaos ensued:
  15. @Bobobohannon @MakersMark @MacCocktail adding H2O will change the flavor profile and certainly change how it mixes in cocktails.
  16. @RichHeiderII @MacCocktail @Bobobohannon @MakersMark Really? Ooh you will just have to stir your drinks less, use better ice what BULL!
  17. May I comment about his feedback on your thoughts? RT @MakersMark: Bill Samuels, Jr. shares his thoughts on your feedback.
  18. @mixxit_wayne @MacCocktail @Bobobohannon since you can't add any color/flavor to bourbon, wouldn't adding H2O change the flavor?
  19. "Most of you aren't sophisticated enough to know you're drinking overpriced, watered-down swill!" -- Maker's Mark
  20. @sawaboof @MakersMark Yes, they're forgetting a little something called "Perception". Mine has changed. Probably not alone.
  21. @Biebert I would be horrified if @The_Glenlivet watered down their product and told consumers it wouldn't alter the quality. @MakersMark
  22. Another reason not to drink Maker's Mark ---- Maker's Mark defends watering down its bourbon  http://ow.ly/hDA9k 
  23. Maker's Mark defends watering down #bourbon - don't all 'evildoers' do that? Surprised it's that good, @MakersMark?  http://buff.ly/X3G1fQ Q
  24. A provoking tweet by @TwistLondon sparked what was probably the most interesting engagement Maker's Mark had on Twitter during this crisis (coming from their UK Twitter account!):
  25. @twistlondon Hey thanks for the comment. We wanted to assure you that both Bill & Rob Samuels have tasted the Maker's (extensively!) & …
  26. @twistlondon …both believe it’s completely consistent with the taste profile which was created nearly 60 years ago…
  27. @MakersMarkUK thanks for response- I've read press release, I guess time will tell-will price be coming down to reflect lower costs?
  28. @twistlondon Let us know what you think once you've tried it. We want to know. In Bill Samuels Jr words, we wouldn't screw with your whisky!
  29. @MakersMarkUK will do... No doubt I'm not the only one with concerns, I hope you're right.
  30. @twistlondon… We've also done extensive testing with Maker’s Mark drinkers, and they couldn't tell a difference. Hope this helps a little!
  31. Wild Turkey, a competitor to Maker's Mark, took advantage of the opportunity and demonstrated how one might actually expand their brand:
  32. Adding water? We'll leave that up to you. We bottle Rare Breed at barrel proof. #GiveemtheBird http://pic.twitter.com/KcoEJxjX
    Adding water? We'll leave that up to you. We bottle Rare Breed at barrel proof. #GiveemtheBird pic.twitter.com/KcoEJxjXom/KcoEJxjX
  33. @bagchatter @waynecurtis We introduced 81 to give bourbon drinkers an everyday alternative to Wild Turkey 101.
  34. We distill our bourbons at a lower proof than competitors, allowing us to add less water and preserve more flavor. http://pic.twitter.com/8ejsrtYk
    We distill our bourbons at a lower proof than competitors, allowing us to add less water and preserve more flavor. pic.twitter.com/8ejsrtYkom/8ejsrtYk
  35. Maker's Mark was a bit more engaged on Facebook:
  36. Makers Mark... Are you Even listening to your Customers??????????
  37. They are not listening and do not care. It used to be about the bourbon but, now it is about the dollar.
  38. We are listening. We do care.
  39. Listening? Really? MM, you remind me of the Iraqi information minister in 2003 - Baghdad Bob.
  40. Ultimately, Maker's Mark indirectly debated the meaning of the word "change"...
  41. I am finished with Makers Mark. You had a good product until you chose profits over people and watered down the bourbon. Why on earth would you water it down? Why on earth would you change a good product? I am done with Makers Mark.
  42. Jason Wilkinson - we would not do this if we thought that the product would change. We don't think there is any difference in taste, so we hope you'll give it a try. Yes there is a very little bit of water. Its a very small bit - we would actually disagree with the notion that it's "watered down"
  43. you've changed your product by increasing the water content, and claiming the product hasn't changed? doublespeak...
  44. Some on Facebook sought to be moderating voices on change:
  45. Everyone take a deep breath and relax. While the decision to change the product was in hindsight, ill advised, surely your relationship with Maker's Mark can stand an occasional misstep. Rather than abandoning a fine product (and the people who make it) so readily, work with the company to provide constructive input and improve the product to be even better than it was. After all, any relationship is a two way street so give Maker's a chance to make this better before walking away.
  46. Agreed, I wont resign my ambassadorship, nor stop buying the product, but I will make absolutely sure to let the samuel family know, your actions are comprimising the reputation of quality without comprimise that have been touted for the last 50 years.
  47. Some blasted away with accusations of (unverified) censorship: 
  48. Oh, so if you write a post of any length with reason, they delete it. My guess is that since they hung themselves out to dry, they are monitoring truths and deleting. Regardless, you dont sell a fine product, then change the recipe, and still continue, ain't gonna happen!
  49. Be careful out there Maker's fans. If you make comments speaking out against their "oh so popular" decision, they will block you from commenting.
  50. Others got right to the point - Maker's Mark was behaving in a way that was not true to their brand essence (and brought MM's parent - Beam - into the fray): 
  51. Look, just tell us that your big daddy Beam demanded that you sell more bourbon at the same price to raise your profits and take advantage of the market. It's your feel good story about tasting the lower proof bourbon with your kid that makes all of us high school level economists barf a bit!
  52. Nope , sorry Maker's , total boycott of all Beam Inc. products because of watered down bourbon , never feed greed with more money ......
  53. Remember when Beam criticized Jack for reducing ABV in 2004 because they couldn't keep up with sales??
  54. Is Makers 46 also being watered down? This ain't freekin' soup, you just don't add water to it when the supply runs low!!! What a disgrace!!! I'm an Ambassador but will no longer recommend this bourbon! The marketing team at MM has ruined a tradition of great bourbon for greed. If I wanted a watered down MM, I would add water to it when I sip it! Disgraceful! Take the wax seal off the bottles. This is no longer considered the cognac of bourbon...
  55. Makers - you've made a huge mistake in the way you announced your business need to change and in the way you are handling this. You are making all of us rethink our bourbon brand choice.
  56. Regardless of the difference in taste, if any, I always looked at Makers Mark as a quality/process over quantity. The way that Makers has been marketed and branded is in direct contradiction of the decision that was made. Will that stop me from buying MM in the future? I'm not real sure.
  57. Over a week after their initial announcement, Maker's Mark realized their corporate narrative was out of their control, their brand taking a beating and reversed their decision.
  58. Maker's reversed its decision to water down its bourbon “@MakersMark: You spoke. We listened.  http://ow.ly/hN3kC 
  59. Apologies for our website troubles. Here is the message in full:  https://www.facebook.com/makersmark/posts/10151430509928334 com/makersmark/posts/10151430509928334
  60. Well said. RT @MakersMark: Apologies for our website troubles. Here is the message in full:  https://www.facebook.com/makersmark/posts/10151430509928334 com/makersmark/posts/10151430509928334
  61. Fun fact from @MakersMark fallout. The KY bourbon exec was in #Indy at @stelmo when he heard loudest complaints->  http://qz.com/54762 
  62. . @MakersMark has it's New Coke moment, reverses decision to "water down":  http://www.makersmark.com/#!/live-feed/news/34-you-spoke-we-listened k.com/#!/live-feed/news/34-you-spoke-we-listened
  63. That was a brilliant marketing strategy by .@MakersMark to break Twitter. More people tweeting about #90proof than Syria, the Pope & Bieber.
  64. Good on @MakersMark for listening to customers, making a change & unequivocally saying "We were wrong." Not a customer, but I might start!
  65. And then the entire story jumped the shark, as KFC weighed in...
  66. Hey, @MakersMark. Tip of the Colonel’s hat to another Kentucky brand that recognizes the importance of an #OriginalRecipe. Cheers.
  67. Yup. Bourbon and fried chicken. 'nuff said.