Campari Group MD Discusses Mexican Portfolio Growth, Resurgence of Cocktail Culture and Event Activations

February 1, 2024
By Cody Profaca

Simon Durrant, Managing Director – Australia of Campari Group reflects on the company’s 2023 event partnerships, the resurgence of cocktail culture, and on the growing importance of its Mexican portfolio.

“With summer upon us, we’re very excited at Campari to share the news that we’re back supporting the Australian Open, providing tennis fans with the perfect setting to enjoy an Aperol Spritz. 

It’s not the only news out of Campari. It’s been a big year for all the brands in our portfolio. Whether its consumers looking for a touch of Italian culture through Aperol or our bourbon portfolio changing the way consumers see the category, we have seen growth for all our priority brands and we thank our customers and partners for helping us deliver a fantastic result for Campari Australia.

Our experiential programs for Campari, including the Melbourne International Film Festival and Sydney Contemporary, cemented the brand as the drink of choice for the Australian creative community. We’ve also seen Campari Soda and Campari Spritz gaining popularity and fast becoming ‘must have’ drinks on bar menus across the country.

In 2023, bourbon was back. Our portfolio of Wild Turkey, American Honey, Russell’s Reserve, and our UFC backed Howler Head, showed impressive growth. Wild Turkey had one of its strongest years to date thanks to the continued support from all our customers despite some challenging supply issues in 2022. 

We had a tremendous response to Wild Turkey’s Music 101 platform with mentoring sessions by musician and song writer Matt Corby, proving popular with up-and-coming artists. This activation has not only been successful in establishing Wild Turkey’s brand message: Trust your Spirit, but it has led to Wild Turkey being nominated for an ARIA for best use of an Australian Recording in an advertisement. 

We’re very excited to have had legendary distillers Eddie Russell and his son Bruce in Australia to launch the latest Master’s Keep Voyagers edition through the series of ‘Meet the Master’ events in November. This annual release of our premium range of bourbon has become a key moment each year for drinkers looking for something extra special from their favourite bourbon brand. 

To further boost the flavoured bourbon market, we launched Howler Head, a banana bourbon, as the official flavoured bourbon whiskey of the UFC. With over three million UFC supporters in Australia, this partnership sees us tap into this engaged community and gives the brand significant growth potential. Look out for some news in the RTD space for Howler Head in 2024.

The ongoing resurgence of the cocktail culture has seen the continuation of drinkers embracing the classics such as Negroni on-premise whilst also trying their hand at cocktail making at home. This has contributed to the growth of many of our products used in making only the best cocktails.

We know the Mexican portfolio of tequilas and Mezcals are going to play a big role in our portfolio in 2024 with support going behind our key brands including Espolon, Montelobos and Ancho Reyes. We are now able to confidently increase resources behind Espolon to drive growth and support the premiumisation of this category. For our Mexican gems, Montelobos and Ancho Reyes, we will commence our seeding program in on and off premise venues. 

We’ve also won plenty of awards recognising the great work by many of our team at Campari. We’re most proud of the recognition we have received as a liquor supplier, and we thank our customers for their ongoing support.

As we look to 2024, with continued pressures on consumer spending off the back of interest rises and ongoing economic pressures, Campari is committed to significantly increasing its investment behind priority brands to make sure these brands remain top of mind for consumers and deliver strong sales for our customers. 

Sustainable Values:

I’m proud of our sustainability initiatives at our facility in Derrimut reducing our energy and water usage by more than 15%, our solar electricity installation is underway, and our recent recycling initiatives have shaved our waste to landfill by over 25%. These are all important measures to ensure we continue to reduce our carbon footprint.

D& I Policy:

We’ve built a culture at Campari that’s inclusive and diverse, enabling our people to be supported and take time when they need it the most. Our parental, personal and discretionary leave is best in class and this, combined with our flexible work environment has once again ensured Campari is recognised as a Great Place to Work. It doesn’t just stop at our doorstep – we’re actively contributing to the Drinks Industry, by playing key roles in the Embrace Difference Council and State Chapters.”

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