Two New York City brand ambassadors share their perspectives.
“Being a brand ambassador is, for lack of a better phrase, ‘spreading the good news’ of a product we’re passionate about,” says Taylor Langford, who represents Marie Brizard in New York City. It’s a job that’s relatively new to the bar and spirits industries, occupying the niche that exists between bar and brand in a way that a traditional sales role could not. Brand ambassadorship is about giving a real-life face and genuine accessibility to a product, all while contributing to a bottom line without the kind of implied pressure attached to a more sales-oriented position. And for those who make the switch from behind the bar to brand work, they’re typically in for a lifestyle change (for the better).
“While every company is different, it’s safe to say that when you go from bartender to brand ambassador, your work/life balance automatically improves.
Striking a Balance
Edrington Americas New York Portfolio Brand Ambassador Erik Delanoy, a veteran bartender of nearly a decade, sheds some light on the transition: “While every company is different, it’s safe to say that when you go from bartender to brand ambassador, your work/life balance automatically improves. You’re no longer required to work consistently long and late hours on your feet, you can usually make your own schedule, you can rely on a consistent paycheck, you’ll possibly have access to benefits, and so on.” Another plus, says Delanoy, is that you’ll still be part of the tight-knit community that is the bartending world––just in a different capacity, and with access to another group of key players behind the scenes. “I love that I still get to be in this industry and engage with all of the people I’ve met throughout my years as a bartender,” he shares. “I’m not only continually exposed to that side of the industry, but also on the production side of things, working with the people who actually make the product. They all have really interesting stories that help me bring the product to life in my work.”
The scope of work is, of course, determined by the brand, as are the workflow and benefits, but generally speaking, there’s often quite a bit of autonomy.
A Day in the Life
So what does the day-to-day actually look like? Ask any ambassador, and they’ll tell you that each day is totally different, but there are a few standard things one can expect. For Langford, the job involves a number of different responsibilities that keep her on her toes on a daily basis––think meetings with buyers or wholesalers, on- and off-premise tastings, account visits, staff trainings, and admin. It’s a lot to manage, but she’s got her own approach to keeping it all running smoothly. “I make a loose monthly schedule and do my best to follow it so that I can manage my time as wisely as possible,” she tells Barcademy, noting that when things come up last-minute, she can pepper them into her calendar accordingly. Delanoy follows a similar structure, adding that it’s important to be cognizant of the time you spend out in the field at night. “You’ll be hosting quite a bit and engaging with trade, but you also have to be conscious of your next day so that you can ensure it’ll be productive” he adds. “It’s a delicate balance to strike.”
Contrary to popular belief, ambassadors are far from salespeople––though some roles do involve selling, many don’t at all, with the latter working hand-in-hand with distributor counterparts. The scope of work is, of course, determined by the brand, as are the workflow and benefits, but generally speaking, there’s often quite a bit of autonomy. It’s by no means a traditional nine-to-five desk job, and those considering transitioning from bartending to brand work should go in with an understanding of how they’ll respond to that kind of independence, and ultimately how they’ll flourish in that kind of environment.
“Most people in this community can be incredibly supportive if you actually reach out in a genuine way,”
According to Trish Rossiene, a current bartender and brand ambassador herself, the work is out there for those who want it and have put the time and effort in. After 15 years in the business, Rossiene was approached by Empress Gin 1908 to become an ambassador through their newly established program. “I think they [came to] me because I knew the market really well, I was active in the community, and I had a lot of contacts that I could organically reach out to,” she shares. Having a strong network is an important asset for any brand ambassador, so if you’re looking to pursue brand work, this is something to think about and work toward ahead of time. Rossiene also notes that if you have buying power, that’s one way to develop relationships with a brand you might have an affinity for and would consider working with in the future––in 2017, she was among the first to put Empress on a cocktail menu, which likely contributed to her job offer later on. And if someone you know works for a brand that has an opening you’d like to apply for, don’t hold back. “Most people in this community can be incredibly supportive if you actually reach out in a genuine way,” she adds.
Langford agrees: “Find a brand you want to grow with and learn from [and] just go for it!” There’s certainly no harm in trying.