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First Mover: Lyle Tick

Bacardi's new marketer in charge of Grey Goose discusses the finer points of selling booze

Photo: Elizabeth Lippman

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What will you miss most about agency life?
Thinking every day about multiple categories and multiple brands. It takes a bit of mental dexterity and a little bit of ADD to be good on the agency side. [But] that's exciting to come in and think about different categories and different challenges every day. It keeps you sharp.

What won't you miss?
A certain level of frustration that comes from a lack of control. You're putting your heart and soul into these strategies and these ideas. You're trying to sell them in and you only have a certain level of control over that. Even once they're sold in, you only have a certain level of control over how far they really penetrate into the client and the business and even how they come to life.

Do ex-agency people make better clients?
There are parts of things that agencies are going to love about me and there's parts of things that they're going to hate about me. On the one hand, coming from the agency side, I really do care about the creative. I want to do great work. . . . On the other hand, I know the inner workings of an agency. I am going to push really hard for great work . . . and sometimes that takes a bit of work. I know the tricks of the trade, and I think probably it would be most difficult for another account person to manage me.

Grey Goose's lead creative agency is @radical.media, a company with roots in production. What does this say about the transformation that's going on in the industry?
For years and years, production companies have been transforming, evolving, and trying to have more direct relationships with the clients. I think that the first thing radical did with Grey Goose was [the brand's sponsorship of Sundance Channel's] Iconoclasts and then they built their relationship on that. And Iconoclasts was an early and great example of branded content and entertainment. . . . The way I always talk about it is we're in this industry that has moved from just telling people about our brand promise to needing to bring our brand promise to life in real ways. And oftentimes to do that, advertising is part of it, but we need to look beyond that.

Your new boss, Silvia Lagnado, joined Bacardi last year, after 24 years at Unilever. What can Bacardi learn from Unilever?
I don't know if I'd say Bacardi to Unilever as much as I'd say somebody like Silvia. Silvia is somebody who has been involved with great ideas and great work. She's a true marketeer and I think very, very well respected. Her hire ultimately speaks to the importance of marketing and brands to Bacardi.

Given your employer, will there be a bar in your London office?
On the ground floor, there is a reception area that has a bar. It's a nice bar. It has got obviously all the Bacardi products, every mixer that you can think of, and there are a lot of people in that building that know how to mix a cocktail.

What's your favorite drink?
I like my spirits pretty straight. If I'm drinking my Grey Goose, I'm usually drinking Grey Goose on the rocks with two limes.

What are the biggest clichés in booze advertising?
Beautiful people. That kind of incredible, aspirational night. Then, there seems to be the epic battle between the size of the bottle and the size of the idea. [Laughs] And some people get it better than others.