3 min read

Pernod Ricard’s Digital Director Talks Video Strategy, Making Ads Feel Authentic

On the second episode of Season 3 of The Rough Cut, Storyhunter co-founder Alex Ragir went to Midtown Manhattan for New York’s Advertising…
Pernod Ricard’s Digital Director Talks Video Strategy, Making Ads Feel Authentic

On the second episode of Season 3 of The Rough Cut, Storyhunter co-founder Alex Ragir went to Midtown Manhattan for New York’s Advertising Week, to meet with Kate Whitney, the director of digital for Pernod Ricard, the world’s second-largest liquor distiller. It’s brands include Absolut Vodka, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Havana Club, Chivas Regal, and Malibu. Alex and Kate discussed the importance of authenticity in today’s media saturated world, the state of the digital video industry, the power of brand loyalty and the three pillars of Absolut Vodka’s content strategy.

Below are edited highlights of the conversation:

Make Ads That Don’t Feel Like Ads

“As an advertiser, we’re looking for content that feels authentic. It feels less like an ad than it’s ever felt before. But somehow intrinsically, the brand stays in your mind after you’ve finished watching it. So the content that we want is powerful and simple. Also, the brand is unforgettably linked to that content.”

Three “Pillars” of Absolut Vodka’s Content Strategy

“We’ll take Absolute. It has several content pillars in it’s strategy. You have drink strategy: how does the brand want to be consumed by the strategic target. The content would be made according to this, and it can change every year. Just as fashion changes, so do the tastes of our strategic targets.

The next pillar has little bit more brand purpose to it. So for Absolut, we call it Planet Earth’s Favorite Vodka. That’s us bringing a message that we’ve been supporting the planet since 1975. We want to be making content to tell the story that this is in our blood.

The last one is product. So we might have content that is specific to a new product. Absolut Juice is a good example. That isn’t necessarily just a cocktail recipe. That piece of content might be about how we make Absolut Juice and what’s different about that product. But how do you make that content and bring that story to life so you don’t just sound like an ad and instead you sound like a very interesting piece of content?”

YouTube: A Great Home For Your Content

“YouTube is almost like TV network now. They have channels and the same general consumption experience. And I love the idea that we are intercepting their viewing with a relevant message. We can contextually place our content where and when it most suits and where it’ll resonate the most. I’d much prefer to find this consumer moment that we want to harness and make content specifically for that.”

Power of Consumer Brand Loyalty

“If [consumers] never loved you as brand, you don’t stand a chance. Getting into that consideration set isn’t an instant purchase moment. It takes years and you have to stick to your DNA and what you’re good at. I’ve seen that with a lot of the brands I’ve worked with. You can’t stop building the brand because you never know where your next sale is going to come from, but the one thing you can trust is that consumer brand love is enduring.”

Finding New Ways To Measure Ad Success

“Consumers want their brands to be as authentic as they are themselves. We as advertisers are going to have to pull back on measuring things like “likes” because we’re going to stop seeing them. So what is a measure of brand saliency and brand relevance on social? It will have to be something that is deeper than how many likes you got on an image.”


Previous episodes of The Rough Cut:

Season Three:

Charlie Chappell, Head of Integrated Media, The Hershey Company

Season Two:

David Weinstock, Chief Creative Officer, RF|Binder

Bonin Bough, Founder & CEO, Bonin Ventures

Mary Kate McGrath, Chief Content Officer, Gallery Media Group

Barri Rafferty, President & CEO, Ketchum

Stacy Minero, Global Head of Content Creation, Twitter

Ari Halper, Chief Creative Officer, FCB New York

Mickey Meyer, President of Network, Group Nine Media

Season One:

Courtney Coupe, VP of Content, Great Big Story

Stone Roberts, VP of Global Video Strategy, Refinery29

Jason Beauregard, Head of Studio, VaynerMedia

Zahra Rasool, Editorial Lead, Contrast VR

Warren Cohen, Head of Video, New York Post

Greg Gilderman, Global Head of Video and Editor-in-Chief, Weather Channel

Jamie Bolding, Founder and CEO, Jungle Creations

Craig Duff, Video Journalism Professor, Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism


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By Jake Watkins, Content Marketing Manager