As part of the Funky Brand Interviews series, I am happy to talk to James Payne, Global Communications Manager at Baileys Irish Cream. Baileys is one of the best-selling liqueur brands globally and originated in 1974 in Ireland. R&A Bailey & Co. who created Baileys became part of Grand Metropolitan, which merged with Guinness to form Diageo in 1997.
Today SCHMOOZY FOX talks with James about the recent celebrity endorsement of the Baileys festive bottle by actress Kim Cattrall, as well as the activities undertaken by the Baileys team in order to connect to fans of this drink through online channels.
SCHMOOZY FOX: James, the Baileys Facebook fan page has almost 800 000 fans. That's a massive number! When did you launch your Facebook page and how much time did it take you to reach this number?
James Payne: Anne Katherine Elmsgard, a fan in Denmark, launched the page early in 2008. We got in touch with her later that year and asked if we could help her to manage the page and do more with it. She was actually really keen for us to get involved because, while she really loves Baileys, she didn’t have much time to actively manage the page. The fan growth has been completely organic – most of the growth took place between October-December last year. The page went from less than 200,000 to over 600,000 fans in three months. While we have fans on the page from all over the world, Latin countries seem to have really embraced the fan page. Italy is the country with most fans – almost 220,000. In terms of languages, Spanish speakers are the biggest group, followed by English and Italian speakers.
SCHMOOZY FOX: What's the profile of somebody who likes Baileys? What would be some of the most common characteristics, not only in terms of age, gender and place of residence, but also in terms of the emotional motivations that trigger your customers' interest in this brand? James Payne: Baileys has an incredibly broad consumer base – its delicious taste appeals to so many people! This makes it harder to describe a typical profile in demographic terms. I think it’s more useful to consider the kinds of characteristics that Baileys drinkers have in common. People who drink Baileys frequently tend to be people who enjoy life to the full and savor all the pleasures that life sends their way.
Baileys is very much a ‘feel’ brand not a ‘think’ brand – it’s not about how many years it’s been in a barrel or how it makes you look to people who don’t know you. It’s definitely more about the amazing sensation of it melting on your tongue, warming your mouth and tantalizing your taste buds; it’s about the warm feeling you share with good friends when you can have your guard down and be yourself completely - moments when, because you know each other so well, a look or gesture can communicate a thousand words or have everyone laughing out loud.
SCHMOOZY FOX: And do you think that Facebook can help you get in touch with such people?
James Payne: Facebook has become so ubiquitous in so many countries that there is clearly an overlap between Facebook users and people who love Baileys – the organic growth of the fan page is a really good demonstration of this. The challenge when you’re dealing with a ‘feel’ brand like Baileys is that it can be difficult to properly bring the brand to life via short status updates or wall-posts. We’re still learning what our fans want. We’ve asked them and in many cases they want to hear about things like new ways to try Baileys so we regularly share recipe cards on the page. We’re keen that the fans communicate with each other too so we regularly add new discussion topics and polls to the page. We try to offer them special and exclusive content too – for example, this week we’re posting an exclusive behind-the-scenes video of a recent celebrity photo-shoot that our fans will get to see first.
SCHMOOZY FOX: Why are most of the status updates on your Facebook page both in English and Spanish?
James Payne: There are slightly more Spanish-speaking fans than native English speakers on the fan page, but we believe that English is likely to be the most widely understood language so we lead with English and follow up with a Spanish translation. Ideally we would have an Italian translation too, but three translations would start to look a bit clunky. A new functionality allowing geo-targeted status updates launched on Facebook last week so we are investigating how best to use this to communicate with our global fan base most effectively.
SCHMOOZY FOX: You've just featured some great behind the scene photos from your photo shoot with Kim Cattrall, who played Samantha in Sex And The City. In the photos, she's wearing a dress designed by Patricia Field to launch the Baileys Festive Bottle which comes with a red bow. Is it the first time Baileys is doing a celebrity endorsement? Could you tells us a bit more about Baileys' partnership with Kim Cattrall? Why was she chosen?
James Payne: I’m sure it can’t be the first celebrity endorsement in the brand’s history, but it is certainly the first recent partnership with a celebrity. In many countries we have sponsored high-profile TV shows like Sex And The City, Friends and Desperate Housewives when they were at the peak of their popularity so there is that link between Baileys and shows with celebrity-filled casts. In this case we wanted someone to launch our Baileys festive bottle who embodied the qualities of the brand. I’ve already mentioned that Baileys drinkers tend to enjoy life to the full and savor all the pleasures that life sends their way. I think people can see that in Kim and the characters that she plays. She also genuinely loves Baileys – I think that’s pretty clear from the behind-the-scenes video!
SCHMOOZY FOX: What other activities are you planning to undertake in 2010 in order to build online brand presence for Baileys?
James Payne: Our key focus for Baileys in the digital space is to find ways to build a closer relationship between the brand and our consumers. We want to find ways to recognize and reward our drinkers. Facebook allows us to do this in a limited way, but we can do this in a much richer way if our consumers sign-up for The Baileys Lounge on Baileys.com. This is our exclusive members experience, with new recipes from top chefs and mixologists, life and style content (from party tips to expert interviews) and exclusive offers and competitions to give something back to our consumers. It’s a really good way for people who love Baileys to get regular treats and surprises through the e-mail updates.
SCHMOOZY FOX: many thanks for this interview, and I wish a very sweet 2010 to yourself and the Baileys brand!