Social Media Updates: The September Round-up
Are you on top of the latest social media tools and features?! You should be! Here are the September 2021 highlights…
We know that everyone consumes media in different ways and we want to make sure that our podcast can be enjoyed by as many people as possible. So, for every episode of TAKUMI #Unfiltered, we will publish a transcribed version of the conversation.
Mary is joined by Sandra Suarez, Influencer and Experiential Marketing Director at Moët Hennessy, where she oversees influencer marketing and consumer engagement. Sandra has led an incredibly diverse array of campaigns, ensuring that this legacy brand keeps on the pulse and maintains an emotional connection with consumers. She offers valuable insights for professionals and marketeers around the world, particularly in the context of today’s cultural landscape.
Sandra: Sure, Mary, thank you so much for having me here today. I’m super excited to be talking about a topic, that in the world, in years past we would have not had the chance to discuss so I’m super excited to be here with you.
Sandra: To give you a little background on my role- I am really focused on ensuring that I keep that pulse in the culture. And like you said, understanding the consumers in a deep emotional manner, which, as you see what’s happening in the world now, that is truly where we need to be as a brand. We talk a lot about being a spirit and being a liquid in a bottle, but most of the time, it’s about more than the liquid in the bottle: ensuring that we are connecting to our consumers on a deeper level.
Sandra: Absolutely, absolutely it is, we have about 42 brands in our portfolio that all speak to different cultures. I specifically work for Hennessy, so it’s really leading the influencer ecosystem for the brand and understanding not only the consumer, but also our talent that works with us, and ensuring that an old ties into our programming.
Sandra: They really connect to the people that are out there, right? Everything that we do is on social media, meaning when I say ‘we’ I don’t mean the brand, I mean just people in general. They’re on social media, they’re on television; there is such a close connection between what’s happening in the world, more so than ever. So, influencers play a huge part within that connectivity that we’re looking for from the brand.
As long as they’re organic- organic and natural and that they fit into their influencers platform, that’s the only way that it works. So for us it’s really ensuring that these influencers have that reach, and that visibility that we’re looking for, for our consumers, and that their platforms fit and mirror what we’re doing with the brand.
Sandra: Nas has actually been the voice of Hennessy for over nine years, and he is one of our- what we call internally- our ‘Fab Five’ members- our true influencer macro within the brand. So that’s why he was selected. A lot of our campaigns have his voice and his image, and it’s because he is a true icon, similar to what our brand is. For us, also within the black community, we have been participating and real believers in just being so diverse with our brand… and I can give you a little background! In 1896 was the first time that we were part of the National Urban League. One of the first spirit brands.
Sandra: Absolutely it does. We also participated in 1909 in the National NAACP, so we’ve really been part of the black community from the beginning. We wanted to ensure that voice continued, and that our heritage in the US was still standing next to the black community.
I can tell you another story, because there’s so much background and people don’t know that Hennessy has all of this history…
Sandra: In the 1950s we were one of the first spirit liquor brands to advertise in Ebony Magazine!
Sandra: It is, and we just launched that not too long ago. It’s been out for about a month now, and the way that this started was really around ensuring that everything that we do within community ties in together. So before the Never Stop Never Settle Society kicked off, which is Empowering Entrepreneurs, we actually built grants around it. And these entrepreneurs had to apply- the application process is going to close in the next few days- so I encourage people to definitely go into our website and sign up if they can.
But before Never Stop Never Settle Society, we had ‘Unfinished Business’ and that’s really where it came from- we wanted to ensure that we were supporting our communities financially, and not only the small business owners but also entrepreneurs. When we launched ‘Unfinished Business’, which was focused around the small business owners in our community within the United States, there was a huge ask of entrepreneurs that were just starting businesses or that had just closed their businesses that also needed support, so we decided to launch the Never Stop Never Settle Society.
Sandra: Yes, absolutely. On that specifically we wanted to ensure that, also outside the black community, that we speak to the diversity of our brand. So we not only support the black community, but also the Asian and Hispanic community, and we celebrate the Asian community all the time with Lunar New Year, and I’m not sure if you know Henry Golding? He is also one of part of our Fab Five members, along with Nas.
Sandra: That’s an interesting question Mary! Not interesting, but it’s a it’s a tough one. Right, yeah, we’re all still learning so much about equal pay. Yes, it’s not a topic that many people have the education behind or that truly understand it, so for me I would say that education and understanding, what that means and what the background of true, equal pay means, is really what I would say as advice to influencers. Making sure that education is key, and one of the things that we are offering on our website is those education points to help out our influencers and entrepreneurs to continue to educate themselves, not only on equal pay, but other parts of business.
Sandra: I mean the best example is our Dear Destiny programme, and the film that we launched during the NAACP awards. For us, when we launched that film there, it just took on another complete level of evolution and voice of the brand. And what we did with that campaign, outside of just having Nas as the lead in that film, and his daughter… so I’m not sure if you know but in the film, Destiny is his daughter!
Sandra: He’s writing the letter to Destiny just in the world, but then he realises that he’s talking to his daughter, so really honing in on family outside of what’s happening and ensuring that you’re taking care of that. But to go back to your question, outside of building that form of the film, and really creating that impactful connection with our consumers, we then took our team Hennessy influencers- so I have 16 members that I manage across the country, who are really the pulse of culture within their cities- and we engage these influencers to talk about their cities, what they were passionate about and write their own Destiny letters that spoke to them, and that spoke to the city that they represent.
And outside of that we continue to pass that along and continue the movement and have entrepreneurs that are coming in now in the second wave, you’ll see that they’re going to write their own Dear Destiny letters, and these entrepreneurs that we’re bringing on board along with Team Hennessy will be able to supply educational advice to other people that are looking for education, like I mentioned, entrepreneurship.
Sandra: 100% Mary. You said it’s so beautifully.
Sandra: Such a great question. I can tell you that it’s not only Hennessy and our influencers or Team Hennessy that we have to ensure that we protect, but also our consumers. As a company, the one movement that we’ve really taken on is ensuring that we have a voice. So diversity and inclusion is huge for us. As a company, we have really taken the lead in ensuring there’s education behind it and that we have open protected spaces where we can have a voice and talk about the things that we need to do to ensure that we are okay as employees, but that we are also okay in what we’re doing and how we’re proceeding with the brand. And to me, and again for me as the manager of these influencers, what I always tell them is that they have to be honest with themselves- they have to be honest with who they believe they are. And with that, then we can support and help with the toolbox to ensure that we are all in a very secure space to have a stance
Sandra: I mean, it’s insane for me because when I think about my journey- it brings me back all the way when I came into the United States. So I was born in Colombia, immigrated to the United States, and came here with immigrant parents from Colombia who came to United States for the American dream.
Being able to come into the spirits industry, which I knew nothing about, was super interesting. Then, seeing that there was really no diversity at the time, and especially there were no women in that industry, it really put me in a situation where I had to step back, take a deep breath and decide whether I wanted to continue on the journey of making a name for myself in a career within the spirits industry, or just do something else.
I wouldn’t have thought that I would be where I am, leading and being part of such an amazing brand, and directing a team of influencers across the country and really helping foster what that platform looks like. So it’s been a long journey, but I’m super proud of it and I am super proud of the industry itself, because I’ve seen the way that it’s changed. It’s really taken the time to look at the diversity and the powerful and impactful people that work within it, and the talent. So for me it’s been, it’s been really gratifying and I don’t believe that this is even half of it.
Sandra: Yeah, absolutely. And one of the things that we say within the company is that we are ‘one’.
No matter your background, your ethnicity- just making sure that it’s all blended.
Sandra: Yes, yes it has been relentless. I have to tell you that for me it’s been such a learning experience. It’s made me take a minute to stop and really learn about myself and who I am. I can tell you that the way that I’ve done that is ensuring that I go outside. I try to go out every day, just walking, just to make sure that I’m checking in with myself. It’s helped me learn a lot of who I am, so I’m grateful for that pause but I do miss the world just being open, and I do miss seeing people and just having that energy because I think it’s super important to have.
So I do believe what you said Mary, it is going to continue to open up and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Sandra: Thank you, Mary. Same here. You’re a wonderful person. Thank you so much for this time.
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