Clique Vodka: The Black Out Interview

Published On November 23, 2012 | By Kymbo Slice | Interviews

Clique, the Pittsburgh-based brand of vodka is undergoing a serious makeover. While the taste is nothing short of perfection, the people behind the brand thought it could use a revamp, and so, decided to step up their game by releasing a black bottle – a sleek take on an already smooth vodka. We got to speak with two people behind the brand – Noah Cohen, CEO and Founder, and Frank Bachurski, who handles the marketing of parent company, Premier Innovations Group – to find out more about the new direction Clique is taking and how it all came together to reach this point. Take it away, boys.

When Clique was presented with a challenge, they saw it as an opportunity, says Noah. “We had been producing the raw material glass bottles in Russia and in early 2012 there were some changes with the factory that forced an opportunity for us that would require a change to the bottle. I approached our Premier officers and told them that we would need to make a change and suggested we see what I can find through some of the relationships I formed throughout Eastern Europe, Mexico, India, and China in bottle decoration and glass manufacturing. When receiving samples, an example of a black bottle was sent to me from China. Our officers loved the idea but didn’t think it could be done. Frank really wanted to change the label look to make it sleeker and better. Joel Kamensky (our VP of graphic design) came up with a concept combining his thinking with Frank’s ideas and then I set out to implement this and make it happen globally.”

With Clique having already established itself as a successful brand, the plan moved forward. “We had a great momentum with the old product and I approached our officers with two scenarios. Completely stop production of the old packaging and have an “out with the old, in with the new” philosophy or buy more product assuming the rule of double I always talk about – everything takes twice as much time and twice as much money. We decided to make the more difficult decision. I have always focused on this as part of our company culture – make harder decisions and sacrifice for the long run. It was a huge risk. Risk-taking is what made me start Premier in the first place so I knew then it was the right way to go.”

After a final decision was made, then came the hard part. “The next 3-4 months were grueling for me. I stayed up all night, every night with the time difference trying to find every decorative and glass-making factory in the world. The key was creating utilizing existing relationships. Finally I found the factory that was a perfect fit with amazing capabilities in Eastern Europe about 10 hours from Riga Latvia in a country I cannot disclose because of the incredible technology that is still unknown to many brand builders. I traveled to this factory and spent over a month in Europe figuring the best way to logistically handle this and renegotiated the price points so that the products margin was the same with incredible packaging. The goal was as always to create extreme value – premium quality and packaging at an incredible price. From March until now our company sacrificed together. We managed the best we could and had several people invested to help. It was a learning experience that made our companies’ teamwork and inner relationships even stronger. Nobody lost hope. I worked on keeping our moral up and the eye on the ball, constantly sharing the vision and painting great culture. Our officers led the way for the rest of the team and they stayed focused and positive throughout.”

In the end, it paid off. “We were able to purchase 2800 cases with the funding we received and money we shrewdly saved and we are proud to have most of the product sold before it landed in the US in early November. We recently delivered to over 17 states and have several countries buying. The bottles could not be more amazing works of art. Now only time will tell, but we are confident and feel very strongly about the decision.”

With a product to be proud of, we wondered what was next for Clique in terms of marketing and promoting the new bottle. Frank had a unique perspective of his own to offer.

“The new bottle concept is something that I have wanted to see since the creation of the brand. With this new product, my vision of what I wanted the Clique Vodka brand to embody really came to life. While the vodka itself will remain the award-winning formula that brought us two international gold medals for taste, the new black bottle represents a much more accurate depiction of its identity. This new bottle will be branded to the 21-40 year old discerning vodka drinker that not only has a taste for premium quality vodka, but also an eye for what is to come in a trendsetting industry such as spirits.”

This campaign has set to capitalize and begin today – Black Friday. “The campaign title is, “The New Black”. #TheNewBlack. We are releasing a full roll out of the new product image through social networks, guerilla marketing, promotions on site in multiple cities, and a full array of mainstream media and advertising such as television, radio, billboards, etc. We will be promoting in over 15 new states to coincide with this launch so it is a massive project, which makes it that much more exciting of course.”

And how exactly does Clique Vodka fit into the bigger picture of the industry? Frank believes it to be a catalyst. “Every so often a brand will emerge that will revolutionize an industry. The spirits industry has reached a tipping point with growing technology and its evolution and there is now an opportunity for a brand to emerge and change the way this industry speaks to its consumers. Now is the time for a innovative, intelligent brand to change the game while maintaining the traditional production quality of a truly superior product. Our group of young, forward-thinking visionaries will speak to an informed demographic and raise the bar for the future of vodka and the way we do business. Clique Vodka is the new black, and will become a timeless staple in the vodka industry.”

It’s no secret that these boys know how to throw a party, and so, with our final question we wondered what’s in the pipeline for upcoming events. “In the whirlwind of this full scale launch, we have a lot of amazing new things coming up within the next year. One of our favorite times of year is always our anniversary party. We will be coming up on our two-year anniversary in December, at which we will invite all of our supporters, investors, media, service industry, etc to join us for one large scale celebration of what we have all achieved since our brands’ inception. The details of this will be released soon but I assure you it is an event not to be missed, especially with 2012 having been such a monumental time for our business.”

We wish Noah, Frank and the rest of their team the best of luck with making Clique Vodka the best brand it can be. We already know it’s got the taste down. We’ll be patiently awaiting our invite to the bash 🙂

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