As part 1 of the eBev global beverage marketing interview series we were speaking with Juan Carlos Maroto, Director of Marketing at Vantguard. VANTGUARD, based out of Spain, holds a portfolio of unique spirits and water brands.

Seth Hillstrom (SH): Juan, thanks for taking some time to chat with us today!

Juan Carlos Maroto (JCM): Hi there Seth! My pleasure to share my time with you today

SH:Please tell us a little bit about Vantguard and your brands.

JCM: We’re a company founded in 2010 when we’ve launched our first product, GIN MARE. We’re always looking for creating new categories in “blue oceans” not in the classical model of categories and offering what the consumer of the 21st century is looking for, not what the brands want to be consumed.

SH: Many companies focus on positioning their brands for category leadership. Vantguard focusses on developing “Brands that are alive with soul”, saying that your aim is “…to create lasting, memorable drinks brands that bring as much joy to our customers as they do to us. Can you share what the thinking is behind this? Does authenticity play a role in your golas

JCM: Yes we’ve believe that our brands need to have a true soul and to be bold from the liquid, to the packaging, to the creative platform, honest within their drinks strategy and the way to interact with the bartenders & the end consumer. We like to innovate constantly breaking the typical concepts such if you create a cachaça brand you need to build its credentials via caipirinhas for instance but we do not, we’ve invented a new way of drinking cachaça more contemporary and running away from the typical topics of the category or the country as Brazil. To look for the excellence and to question constantly the status quo (internally & externally) we do it in our daily basis. And everyone in the company can question those, no matter the position or how many years he/her has been working with us.

SH: It sounds like you’re building a culture of disruption, and the passion your team has carries on to your consumers.

JCM: This philosophy applies to work with the brands in a more intimate way, more empathic and not treating the brand as a financial asset such other big companies do and applies the same techniques of brand building to all their portfolio following the usual market studies. INNOVATION never is predicted in those studies, and you can see that big brands are being unable to launch new premium brands, they need to buy them outside of their company and recruit new professionals that work in a different way.

SH: As someone marketing brands that are based on bringing joy and making memories…and based on innovation rather than existing conventions…What are your primary marketing goals when launching a campaign?

JCM: The primary goal is how aligned with the DNA of the brand is that idea / campaign, then we measure what’s the potential PR wise as we don’t work with the standard ATL campaigns. We’re not obsessed by reach, just for the quality and the power of engagement and always building Brand equity

SH: I think that makes a lot of sense

JCM: Thanks! We’re proud of working that way, is the only way we conceptualize to do it actually!

SH: You’ve shared with us an incredibly effective program that seems to pull in a lot of these themes and goals, your Gin Mare brand’s Med Rooftops (which we’re excited to hear more about this Spring at eBev!). Here’s a link for those who haven’t seen it:

So 4 cities, 4 events, tons of visitors, lots of happy consumers. What’d you learn about your consumers, and maybe even more importantly, how to build their passion for your brands? Can you tell us what’s coming in 2017?

JCM: Again, when we’ve launched this year Med Rooftops by GIN MARE globally we’ve did it following our own instinct, not based in any particular study and when we’ve looked for the perfect partners we’ve had a hard time because not too many people in the PR agencies got the idea, because no one did it before so we knew that we were hitting in the right spot and it’s the VANGUARD way, playing the risk with our resources to maximize them. Residential rooftops to bring the key brand values of the Mediterranean to those cities who’re not familiar with them in their daily basis, that’s the key axis and then we’ve always work on the particular taste of each event per city but having Global consistency that was the target for us. We’ve learned a lot from this experience, especially in tough markets for PR initiatives such US and UK. 2017 is coming with more Med Rooftops in new cities such Rome, Hamburg, London, Madrid & Lisbon so far!

SH: This is an extremely refreshing approach to really “sharing” your brand with consumers; and I believe it creates the opportunity for consumers to really live and experience a moment captured by the essence of GIN MARE.

Okay, one final question, I promise! How are you leveraging this campaign and amplifying your message? “Who” demographically are your consumers, and what channels/platforms are you reaching them on to amplify this program?

JCM: For us is particularly important the phase prior to the event generated with PR because is the way of how the end consumers can get inscribed in the Med Rooftops microsite. 70% of the total PR coverage needs to be in the teaser stage, the rest during and after the event The target audience we’re looking for are urbanistas, between 28-45 yo, unisex target, travelers, foodies that are used to take their palate out of their comfort zone, Med lovers, trend setters within their friends, social animals, stylish without being posh or artificial human beings.

SH: Excellent. And I think that demographic beautifully matches this program – which is probably why Med Rooftops has been such as success and is growing in 2017! Well thank you Juan Carlos Maroto for taking some time to tell us a little more about what you’re doing at VANTGUARD and how you’re finding and connecting with a passionate audience. We’re very excited to hear your in-depth presentation this spring at eBev 2017! Here’s where you can get more information about meeting Juan Carlos and hearing from him and many other beverage marketing leaders at eBev 2017 in Lisbon March 22-23:

JCM: Thanks for letting us share our initiatives with you guys, big big pleasure and see you at eBev in Lisbon in 2017.


Questions or comments for Seth or Juan Carlos? Feel free to leave a comment below or email Seth at

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