Sometimes a mea culpa is the best investment to be made

Maker's Mark

Maker’s Mark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The interwebz are great for connecting people. And like any other activity involving people, there’s significant opportunity for someone to totally jack things up. When brands are involved, the stakes are high. Ask Chrysler.

When brands acknowledge mistakes, it’s internet awesomesauce. Which tastes a little like Maker’s Mark. The company announced recently that, due to their inability to keep up with demand, they would be reducing their alcohol content. Whisky-lovers and armchair analysts were all atwitter. Like literally.

Now’s the part where I tell you that I am a Maker’s Mark Ambassador, a distinguished title you can get along with some business cards which you definitely do not want to accidentally hand out to your clients. Somewhere in Kentucky there is indeed a barrel of the good stuff with my name on it.

Anyway, as an Ambassador, I was on the receiving end of the email announcement on the planned watering-down as well as the let’s-pretend-we-didn’t-say-that follow-up, which went a little something like this:

Dear Ambassador,

Since we announced our decision last week to reduce the alcohol content (ABV) of Maker’s Mark in response to supply constraints, we have heard many concerns and questions from our ambassadors and brand fans. We’re humbled by your overwhelming response and passion for Maker’s Mark. While we thought we were doing what’s right, this is your brand – and you told us in large numbers to change our decision.

You spoke. We listened. And we’re sincerely sorry we let you down.

So effective immediately, we are reversing our decision to lower the ABV of Maker’s Mark, and resuming production at 45% alcohol by volume (90 proof). Just like we’ve made it since the very beginning.

The unanticipated dramatic growth rate of Maker’s Mark is a good problem to have, and we appreciate some of you telling us you’d even put up with occasional shortages. We promise we’ll deal with them as best we can, as we work to expand capacity at the distillery.

Your trust, loyalty and passion are what’s most important. We realize we can’t lose sight of that. Thanks for your honesty and for reminding us what makes Maker’s Mark, and its fans, so special.

We’ll set about getting back to bottling the handcrafted bourbon that our father/grandfather, Bill Samuels, Sr. created. Same recipe. Same production process. Same product.

As always, we will continue to let you know first about developments at the distillery. In the meantime please keep telling us what’s on your mind and come down and visit us at the distillery. It means a lot to us.

Sincerely,

 

Rob Samuels

Chief Operating Officer,

Ambassador-in-Chief

rob@makersmark.com

There’s s much goodness going on here, even beyond the fact that I am not going to have to toss back an extra shot to get a good buzz on.

  • They acknowledged what they did wrong (“we announced our decision last week to reduce the alcohol content (ABV) of Maker’s Mark in response to supply constraints”)
  • They recognized the impact to their fans (“While we thought we were doing what’s right, this is your brand – and you told us in large numbers to change our decision.”)
  • They apologized (“we’re sincerely sorry we let you down.”)
  • They restate a commitment to the people who love them some Maker’s (“Your trust, loyalty and passion are what’s most important. We realize we can’t lose sight of that. Thanks for your honesty and for reminding us what makes Maker’s Mark, and its fans, so special.”)
  • They explain their plan (“Same recipe. Same production process. Same product.”)
  • They continue to deliver on their brand (“We’ll set about getting back to bottling the handcrafted bourbon that our father/grandfather, Bill Samuels, Sr. created.”)

That is a 90-proof apology. That’s how it’s done.