Team Hennessy: Building Product Awareness Online & Offline with New Influencer Program

This was originally posted on WOMMA’s All Things WOMM blog on December 4, 2014.

What typically comes to mind when revamping an influencer program? Usually it’s finding advocates with high reach that also care about your brand. When Hennessy US sought to design an influencer program, they pushed the needle by coming up with a new approach. Moet Hennessy USA Digital Marketing Director Montana Triplett and Social@Ogilvy Account Director Madeline McCaul presented how they formed a team of 14 brand ambassadors, called Team Hennessy, to increase online and offline product awareness and push sales.


First, Hennessy took a deep dive into their target market, Hispanic and African American males age 21-35, and where they needed to be to move beyond tactics and launch a breakthrough campaign. Not only did they conduct extensive research around their target market, they also looked at their competitive set including vodka and tequila brands.

The research pointed to two main problems: 

  1. People saw the brand as conservative and old-fashioned
  2. With its strong taste, there was a misconception that it cannot be a mixed drink


Trying to appeal to a new generation of ethnic drinkers and increase consideration among super premium spirit drinkers, within this new target, required rebranding. The new target wanted advertising that would mean more than just a product; it needed to be a theme. That’s when the breakthrough idea was born, “What’s Your Wild Rabbit?,” pushing the limits of one’s potential.

In order to be affective with the consumer, Hennessy needed to challenge them. They went beyond the traditional, “influence the influencer,” and found influencers who embodied the wild rabbit spirit and who could also drive tactical sales. This became their new influencer model:

In order to have an actionable influence on the business, each influencer has to have relationships with club owners, has to get the product on shelves (each influencer has sales goals) and has to be great content promoters inside and outside the club.

To find the perfect match, Hennessy also shadowed every potential influencer for three things:

  1. Were they good hosts?
  2. Could they get people into the clubs and buy bottles?
  3. Could they pull themselves together after a night of drinking and work the next day?


Hennessy ended up with a team of 14 influencers – 14 ongoing channels to distribute content through. On any given night Team Hennessy is inviting celebrities and influencers to the clubs and taking pictures that show off the product lifestyle as well as selling bottles. The next day, Team Hennessy can take that content and share it on social media in their voice.

That kind of never stop, entrepreneurial spirit resulted in:

  • 4.2k events
  • 249.9k consumed samples
  • 433k drinks sold
  • 27.9k bottles sold
  • 500M media impressions generated
  • 565k social media posts generating 38M impressions
  • 4.2% brand growth from 2012 to 2013

The importance of not only driving influence online but being at the ground level where your consumers are, is how Hennessy earned impactful results. Offline and online influence also requires a personality that meshes well with your brand, a person with the right relationships and a strong work ethic. Having all four elements is key for finding the best influencers for your brand.