Hong Kong Baijiu (HKB) was the veritable “new kid on the block” of baijiu. Baijiu, the largest selling spirit in the world isn’t known much outside of Asia, but HKB planned to change that. Traditionally made in modern packaging, HKB is a funky, grain-based spirit made in the traditional style of baijiu. Founder, Charles Lanthier spent a significant amount of time in China and wanted the spirit he enjoyed there to be known in Europe and the United States, so he created HKB. We were tasked with helping to make baijiu mainstream while also keeping with its tradition and history.
HKB partnered with Baijiu America for PR representation, and we pitched HKB along with five other well known Chinese brands including Moutai, the “Cristal” of baijiu. We found that pitching these baijius together allowed for greater variety both for journalist palates and opportunities for article and video inclusion.
We primarily focused on pitching dinner meetings, guided tastings, cocktail classes and event participation for this brand. While we turned many people on to the spirit, tasting it alone without full comprehension of exactly what is being tasted could lead to less than favorable coverage. (HKB tastes rather like compost due to it being aged in dirt pits.) We also included HKB in spirits competitions along with other baijius. We worked directly with restaurants in NYC, LA and SF – key markets for the brand – and hosted myriad events.
Most contacts were open to learning about the spirit and had a lot of fun. We were able to secure steady coverage, even if some reactions to the spirit were that it tastes of dirty socks. While it was never easy to bring Baijiu into the hearts and minds of those who had never tried it before, we were able to garner some major media successes, the most significant of those being The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Both of these took nearly a year of contact with each outlet, dinners, sampling and cocktail education. It goes to show that persistence pays off, especially with a craft spirit that has such an interesting history.