Patrón Aims for Perfection in an Artful Return to TV

Cramer-Krasselt tells the tequila's story

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IDEA: Patrón, the world's No. 1 ultrapremium tequila, suddenly has more to say. "They've always told people that Patrón is 'Simply perfect.' Now, for the first time, we're telling people why it's 'Simply perfect.' We're delving into the backstory, and they have a pretty rich backstory," said Larry Hampel, executive creative director and writer at Cramer-Krasselt in New York, which won the account after producing last year's holiday campaign as a project.

After years away from TV, Patrón is rolling out four impeccably designed 15-second spots from C-K that reveal facts about the product that make it so unique—from its distinctive bottles to its ingredients. "We wanted to communicate our quality message," said brand spokesman Greg Cohen. "We've become a big brand, but it's still the same small-batch process. It's exactly the same recipe as the day we started."

COPYWRITING: The bottle is the hero in all four spots, as facts about the product are revealed in the briefest of voiceovers.

"You're looking at a handmade picture of a handmade bottle containing handmade tequila," says one spot, as a person paints a picture of a Patrón bottle. Says another, as the bottle appears as an X-ray: "There's nothing inside but 100 percent Weber Blue Agave from the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico."

A third shows a pen swirling across paper, later revealed to be a bottle's label: "Like all great works of art, every bottle is hand-signed and numbered. No two are exactly alike." The fourth has passport stamps magically appearing on the bottle's surface: "Every bottle of Patrón is handcrafted in Mexico. The finished product is coveted worldwide."

Each spot ends with a full product shot, the URL and the voiced and on-screen line: "Patrón. Simply perfect."

FILMING/ART DIRECTION: "They have a lot of equity in simplicity, white space and big, heroic bottle shots," said Hampel. "Executionally, we led with print. We had these poster-like print ads, and the challenge was to bring them to life in 15 seconds. The spots are all sort of poster-like, too. In each of them, we're doing something with the bottle that brings the message to life."

Director Brian Mah used style frames to work out things like cameras angles, perspectives and cropping—teasing out the storylines visually by not revealing too much too soon. "It makes the viewer say, 'What is this?'" said Mah. "You build a little tension before revealing the product."

Mah's strong background in macro photography allowed him to film incredible close-ups around the bottle. His director of photography, Patrick Otten, had a camera lens outfitted with an endoscope—usually used in medicine to look inside a body cavity. "We could get the lens literally skimming right over the surface of the glass and the label," said Mah. "It put us right in the scene and made the bottle feel that much more dramatic."

Three-quarters of the visuals were filmed in camera; the rest, like the passport stamps, were added in post. It was important that the spots feel tactile, not digital, so Mah worked to accentuate textures like the brush strokes on the canvas and the undulating glass of the bottle—all nods to the brand's craftsmanship.

TALENT/SOUND: John Ventimiglia, who played Artie Bucco on The Sopranos, does the voiceover. "He sounds authoritative, but warm and approachable as well," said Hampel. "It's the first big voiceover job he's done. He's got a terrific voice, and I think he could get a lot of work after these ads break."

Music house Stimmüng crafted atmospheric tracks for each spot, ranging from light and classical (painting) to droning and electric (X-ray).

MEDIA: Print broke in July magazines. TV is a mix of cable and spot network buys, including late-night talk shows and Saturday Night Live.




Client: Patrón Tequila

Agency: Cramer-Krasselt, New York

Chief Creative Officer: Marshall Ross

Executive Creative Director/Writer: Larry Hampel

Executive Art Director: Dean Stefanides

Executive Producer: Noel Tirsch

Production and Post-Production: Alma Mater

Director: Brian Mah

Executive Producer: Kathy Kelehan

Line Producer: Adam Lawson

Director of Photography: Patrick Otten

Editor: Keith Roberts

CG: James Anderson, Lead Artist

Illustration: Gregory Manchess

Music: Stimmüng

Executive Producer: Kristina Iwankiw

Record and Mix: PlushNYC

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.