Call him what you willâPuff Daddy, Puffy, P. Diddy, DiddyâSean Combs is a branding genius. He has launched the careers of several hip-hop stars (most notoriously, the late B.I.G.) on his Bad Boy Records label. He has a successful clothing line and a cable network. He has also partnered with existing brands, including Ciroc Vodka. His branding prowess took the brand from 40,000 cases of vodka sold annually to 2 million. Combs' initial ad campaign included a nearly four minute long commercial featuring what most people imagine an ultra-wealthy famous person's life might be like on a trip to Las Vegas. As you can see from this 30-second version, the campaign was meant to establish the brand as the ultra-premium vodka of the elite.
In a recent interview with AdWeek, Combs discussed his efforts to rebrand the vodka for millennials, a fickle, but lucrative, market segment. He reveals that shifting your brand focus from baby-boomers to millennials was simply a matter of changing the message from "me" to "we." Thus, the upcoming Ciroc rebrand promises to be more realistic, down-to-earth, celebratory, aspirational, and inclusive. This view of millennials is a far cry from the "entitled" label typically bestowed upon it by boomers. Combs, however, is wisely communicating the Ciroc message through the lens of a millennial, targeting how the generation sees itself and its vision of an ideal world. While the brand should no doubt stick to its ultra-premium persona, it is smart to communicate that persona in a way in which the target audience can relate. This requires a real understanding of the target market, which Combs has articulated perfectly: the difference between boomers and millennials is "me" and "we".
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