“Smile twice it’s Ron de Jeremy”
We are in a cavernous studio space inside hasan & partners advertising agency in Helsinki. A giant cut out of adult entertainment legend Ron Jeremy is being carefully positioned in front of me by Olli Hietalahti, a co-founder of One Eyed Spirits.
The contrasting figures are imposing – diminutive cardboard Ron wearing a suit and cheeky, mustachio’d smile; Olli for his physicality, shaved head and tight t-shirt.
I am here to talk to Olli, an adman turned spirits marketer with adult twist, and learn about Ron de Jeremy, the premium quality rum he named after the movie star who boasts a Guinness World Record for ‘Most Appearances in Adult Films’.
I take a sip of Ron and ask how the brand came in to being, Olli replies: “It was 10 years ago. I was a copywriter and partner at King Helsinki at that time. My Art Director Jouko Laune and myself were on a photo shoot in Amsterdam. After a long day we were having a well-deserved beer. There was this rum poster on the wall with picture of a bottle and caption, ‘Ron something’. It hit us that Ron is rum in Spanish and obviously Ron Jeremy is the larger than life Ron. We thought it was hilarious and created the brand that night.”
I ask Olli if he already knew Ron or had experience in the drinks industry?
He explains that he had ten years experience marketing alcoholic beverages, but had never met Ron. “The idea was bit of a joke for about six years until we decided to see if we can make it happen. We tracked down his phone number from a friend who had happened to stay in the same hotel and got his number. Ron probably tried to score her! Then I just called him and he agreed to meet us. We fly to Hollywood, gave him a presentation and found out he is a really nice guy. He loved it and said go ahead.”
The liquid tastes excellent and I’m curious how Olli can position it as premium. I ask: “Some people might query the association between a porn star called ‘The Hedgehog’ and a quality beverage?”
Olli laughs and replies: “Yes, that is true and we believe the concept sells the first bottle, but the quality and taste will surprise consumers and drive repeat sales. Quality is key and Ron de Jeremy is an ultra-premium rum, distilled to honour the manliest man on the planet. Authenticity is also key, so we found the best rum distiller and blender in the world – Don Pancho Fernandez, a 75-year old Cuban master blender who is based in South Central Panama. Don Pancho crafted a taste that is long and full with a smooth finish, just like Ron himself. You can’t help but smile twice when you’re first introduced to Ron de Jeremy, first thanks to the fun brand then for the super premium quality of the liquid.”
“You spent 18 years in marketing, how difficult is it to promote Ron de Jeremy,” I ask.
Olli explains how they concentrate on owned and earned media, adding: “We have spent almost zero on paid media. Ron de Jeremy creates huge talk value for free. Thanks to all his crazy stunts like Miley Cyrus spoofs he is getting more and more famous. We have heavy emphasis on social media and use our own and Ron Jeremy’s official channels extensively.
I ask how involved Ron is in the business and Olli replies: “Ron is heavily involved, he is not called the hardest working man in show biz for nothing. Last year he spent more than 30 days on the road promoting the rum and this year the pace is increasing. He has promoted the rum in the US, UK, Holland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Australia.
“Ron is a perfect marketing platform. He has a global following; he creates the same smile all over the world. He is also very approachable and loves to hang out with people. The story is perfect for the blogosphere and magazines craving interesting, sexy content.”
Finally, I am curious what next for Ron de Jeremy and One Eyed Spirits? He explains: “We see ourselves as a creative spirits incubator and are working on new brands including a second luxury rum called Don Pancho Origenes. Most exciting new products in wine and spirits come from independents and that’s where we see our future.”
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