• Out of Home and Tito’s Handmade Vodka

    Nicole Portwood of Titos Handmade Vodka gave a refreshingly candid talk titled OOH: Outsized Value For An Upstart Brand a last week’s GO2018.  Portwood had 15 years of brand marketing experience when she joined the small Texas distillery Tito’s Handmade Vodka but freely admits she made mistakes when she started using out of home.

    Here are a couple of the company’s first billboards. “We tried to put in something for everybody” says Portwood.  Too many words.  Print too small.  No unifying theme.

    Portwood comments “Our 2013 ad was way too busy.  Reagan made Titos sign a release form saying that they’d told us this creative was unreadable and too cluttered and wasn’t having an impact.  Our company thought people needed something to read when they were stuck in traffic.  We realized had to simplify to one message.”

    The company had lots of success with a hand-painted wall mural in New York City.  The hand-painted mural reinforced the idea that the vodka was hand-crafted.  The mural has lots of words but is aimed at pedestrians walking so it’s possible to absorb the content.


    From 2015-2018 the company simplified out of home designs.  “You can’t tell the story of a person on a billboard” says Portwood, “but you can offer a simple person and a bottle.”   Then it dropped it’s founder for just a picture of a bottle.

    The current creative is a single headline, a bottle and the components of a drink.  It’s concise.  It gets the message across.  If reminds people that Tito’s is America’s original craft vodka.

    Insider’s take:  (1) Don’t assume smart marketing people will get out of home right the first time.  Portwood had 15 years of marketing experience with Bacardi prior to joining Tito’s but freely admits she made mistakes when she started doing out of home.  (2) Education is key.  Be direct but not arrogant when you think a customer is making mistakes with creative.  Reagan let Tito’s make mistakes but told Titos they were making mistakes in a way which kept them as a client.

    A huge thank you to Portwood for a refreshingly brave and candid talk.  We learn from our mistakes.  Thanks for sharing some of yours.

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