‘Brand Ambassador’ as a title catches one’s fancy instantly and glamour, page 3, bling, posh, celebrity etc are some of the descriptors that are perceived to go with the title. When it comes to liquor, we may have been acquainted with a lot of designated brand ambassadors; celebs in their own right, for various brands in India, however all of them most likely have been known to come from the west, they surely brought a lot of skill set in. Speaking of today a liquor major in the country has 4 ambassadors across the country all being foreigners, sadly even an Indian wine co has an ambassador coming from outside the country to explain to the world what Indian wine is like!! And amidst all this a year ago Moet Hennessy, the French liquor major, the ‘M’ and the ‘H’ of the LVMH group decided to bring in the wind of change and appointed an Indian; to be its Brand Ambassador not only in India but also Srilanka, ‘Hava Badlegi’ we thought! Meet Rohan Jelkie the Brand Ambassador for Moet-Hennessy India and Srilanka, a home grown talent in the beverage industry who has been evangelizing and training people on beverages for the past 8 years. We quickly caught up with Rohan when he was on his way to enlighten a parched group with a lot of Champagne and of course knowledge. Here is what the thirsty tippler had to say:
What does the job of a brand ambassador entail?
As a brand ambassador my foremost priority is to demystify the brands I represent and reiterate what they stand for whilst simultaneously creating excitement and encouraging loyalty through choice and awareness within members of the hospitality trade as well and consumers. A brand ambassador fully embodies the brand he represents and endorses it from the bottom of his heart. Frankly I would not have taken up the job if I did not believe in the brands I speak about today.
What does it take to be a ‘Brand Ambassador’?
Being a Brand Ambassador extends beyond being a mere face of the brands for the trade and consumers. One needs to have utmost conviction towards the categories and brands he/she endorses. Add to this an in depth knowledge of the brands that an ambassador represents. One must also be up-to-date with competition news and information. Willingness to work flexible hours, over holidays, travel at a moment’s notice and a genuine liking to interact with people (and with patience!) is a must. You may or may not have a hospitality background but I feel it is an advantage to have worked on the other aspects of the business.
What is your typical day like?
I would love to say that I have a 9 -6 job! In reality however, many a times the ‘nine’ starts in the evening. I start my day meeting clients , could be hospitality or private consumers and the agenda here is usually discussing concepts and exploring ideas to showcase our brands which ends up in helping clients enhance guest experience and businesses to better their revenues. For E.g. at the Lodhi in Delhi we have created a special menu with tweaked Belvedere Bloody Mary to match different cuisines on a Sunday Brunch like a Japanese Bloody Mary with Wasabi and Nori, a Texan Bloody Mary with BBQ sauce, apple cider and more. The Idea is to give customers something innovative each time and push the boundaries of tastes. The second half is usually trainings with the hospitality trade staff that play an important role in selling our brands. At Moët Hennessy India we strongly feel that an associate empowered with knowledge can only enhance the brand image of our liquids. If a hotel associate can explain the difference between Dom Pérignon to a Moët et Chandon to a Krug, all three being Champagnes, and sell the brands as an experience, my job is done!!! If I am working in the latter part of the day then I am mostly likely to be with consumers conducting tastings with a select group of consumers whilst taking them through the journey of the Moët-Hennessy group. Last Sunday I was behind the bar churning out cocktails for the Belvedere Red evening we hosted for a charitable cause.
Upside of your job?
Goes without saying, good food and drink and a lot of travel and I love it!! However the best part of the job is to meet people and different people each day and the wow moment when you get recognized from that one spirited talk someday!! The relationship from a Brand Ambassador transcends into friendship many a times, and bonding over a drink and chat is the best luxury one can have!!
Downside of your job?
One really can’t complain when you represent some of the most admired and luxurious brands in the world. Getting a schedule in place is hard at times. Another thing that irritates me the most is when people ask me if I would have any bottles to spare or if I could get them a free entry to a posh gig!! I wish if I could ask my friend who works for the RBI if he had any excess currency to spare!! People even call me up to ask for a bootlegger’s contact to buy my own brands from them. Also I often crave for a quite day away from the crowd and just have a drink by myself, but I seldom get a chance. Setting a routine is what I am challenged with these days.
What is your favourite drink outside of work??
A classic Belvedere Martini and an old fashioned are drinks I can never refuse. Equally good is a refreshing long drink with Hennessy and gingerale. And when in doubt, there is always a glass of terrific Chandon!
Last question, Can a consumer becomes a brand ambassador??
Well frankly our consumers are our biggest brand ambassadors, they have conviction in our brands and hence they are happy to endorse it whole heartedly when they are entertaining at home or otherwise. In fact at a greater scale there are so many celebrities who patronise our brands without any official association. It is a great moment for us, every time this happens. If you were to technically speak of being in a formal role like the one I am in, its calls for a learnt skill set.
P.S: Below are the beauties we tasted that evening!!!