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“My story starts as a wide-eyed troublemaker here in the rainy streets of Seattle, I’ll spare you the details of my unsettled youth and jump ahead to the finding of my epicurean nature,” says Cameron George, National Brand Ambassador for Ardbeg USA.
“I’ve always been one who’s easily engrossed, which is the byproduct of growing up in a home where questions are were highly encouraged. What is this? Why is this? How does it work? Where does it come from? These are questions I often asked during my youth and continue to ask at 31. My ‘question everything’ mentality and a love of unique flavors and experiences have led me to a beautiful and question-filled career in the alcohol beverage industry.”
Cameron George, National Brand Ambassador for Ardbeg USA
While in college I needed a part-time job, so I washed dishes at a small dive bar in Seattle. While it was nothing close to glitz and glamour, it did reinforce the value of community. My love of spirits & spirits education didn’t strike me until my years spent as a bar manager and beverage director. While in these positions, I found joy teaching those around me everything I possibly could about the spirits I was passionate about. Education, epicureanism, and community are the bedrock of what it means to be an ambassador. Each position I’ve held in the bar, restaurant, and beverage industry has been the building blocks for my position as Ardbeg’s first dedicated National Ambassador.
Representation first and foremost. Do I see myself represented in the brand’s overarching story, history, and message? As an ambassador, you are an outlet through which the brand communicates its story but more importantly, you are a living, breathing manifestation of the brand brought to life. In other words, the brand doesn’t consume you, it becomes a piece of you.
Secondly, this is a spirit and brand story that I believe in, in my case whiskey is a form of nonverbal communication, liquid storytelling if you will. Before becoming any brand’s ambassador, or stepping into any role for that matter I must ask myself “Is this story one I can partake in every day?”, “Is this whiskey one that I can believe in & be proud of every day?”
Every day is a bit different, the only elements that are constants are emails, education, and more emails… all jokes aside this is one of my favorite things about ambassadorship, no two days are the exact same. This propensity for change breeds creativity and excitement for each day to come. One day I may be on airplanes for 8 hours and tackling an education deck, the next I may have 7 staff educations and an event, and the day after that I may sit in on a whiskey creation team zoom calls or maybe go paddleboarding with members of the distributors in a local market I’m visiting. Each has value to the brand that manifests itself in different means.
Cameron George, National Brand Ambassador for Ardbeg USA
Let me count the ways- first and most importantly, I believe in supporting and elevating the knowledge and skill set of our distributing partners as well as internal shareholders in any market I am visiting. This ensures that the gains, placements, and depletions we see as a result of my visits are able to be sustained by the local market team. Secondly supporting brand programming such as the Monsters of Smoke Tour which is designed to increase engagement and brand advocacy in addition to providing an asset for our retail partners to ultimately move cases out the door. I often sync my calendar and in-market dates to the tour schedule to bring the brand's voice and education to life at these events.
Social media is a fun beast to master. My social media handle, Ardbeg Cam, is utilized to supplement my in-market activity and win over hearts and minds on behalf of the brand. Through this channel I take you into the world of Ardbeg through my lens, discussing all things Ardbeggian from a sense of place and provenance to cocktails with our Single Malts, and even posting upcoming events you can purchase tickets to. Each of these instances moves the needle for awareness and sales.
Wing it; although each day, conversation, and event is a bit different, ambassadors are hyper-aware of timing. There are generally 1 million tasks on an ambassador’s plate whether it be catching up on emails, doing expenses, planning the next weeks on the road, or a host of other needs. Winging it means that your time with the ambassador is generally not optimized and thus may be putting them behind on other projects and not maximizing the ambassador’s most valuable resource…TIME.
The social media component was massive for us, it provided me an opportunity to express more of my personality and approach to brand education. I did this through programs like whiskey Through Food, Instagram takeovers of Ardbeg USA, and the Global Ardbeg account as well. In addition to social media, the pandemic presented a unique opportunity to engage with whiskey enthusiasts in their own homes by creating bespoke tastings for whiskey tasting groups like the Drammers (a global whiskey, mezcal, and spirits club) and Seven Grand Whiskey Society. Programs like this allowed Ardbeg and myself to remain at the top of the consumer’s mind.
At this point content is social currency and as such its importance can not be overstated. Creating great content that captivates and grabs its audience is incredibly important. For an ambassador, this content will be a bit different than what the brand itself creates. An ambassador’s content needs to be a bit more human and have a softer approach both telling the brand’s story and your own simultaneously.
Conscious and inclusive. Branded content needs to be hyper-aware of itself and both the successes and failures of its past. It should be aware of the demographics it has traditionally spoken to and opening those doors to new consumers of said content and liquid. Gone are the days of putting all your “eggs” in one basket, even spirits like scotch whiskey are now on a global stage and are a major category enjoyed around the world. In 2021 and beyond it’s important that content reflect this trend of globalization.
As always… scotch, that’s what I’m drinking. Some days I may have a dram neat, others I may open something rare and vintage, but often during these summer months, you’ll find me in my backyard with an Ardbeg Wee Beastie Daiquiri in hand. The most delicious cocktails are often some of the easiest to make, for a Wee Beastie daiquiri follow the prescribed method of:
2 oz Ardbeg Wee beastie
0.75 oz Lime Juice (freshly squeezed)
0.5 oz Simple Syrup
Shake hard for dilution and fine strain into a cocktail glass, tag me on Instagram at Ardbeg Cam in a pic of this cocktail I’m sure you’ll love.
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