Justin Timberlake leaves AB InBev to front Beam tequila brand

Courvoisier maker Beam has signed a deal with RnB singer Justin Timberlake to co-develop its Sauza super-premium tequila brand, as it is confirmed the celebrity’s year-long tie-up with AB Inbev has come to an end.

Justin Timberlake is said to have a stake in the new upmarket tequila brand he has co-developed.

The “Suit and Tie” singer is to market Sauza 901 as a spirit for night-time and celebratory occasions that can either be served straight or as a mixer for cocktails. Promotions will push the “smooth, versatile and unique taste” of the drink being a “cut above the rest”, according to the business.

The tequila, named after the area code of Timberlake’s hometown in Memphis, will be promoted through the singer’s upcoming World Tour “The 20/20 Experience” with a Sauza 901 bar at every show. The business believes upcoming marketing efforts will “challenge industry norms and transform the way people think about tequila”.

It is a rebrand of the 901 Silver tequila the actor co-founded in 2009 with Destileria Santa Lucia producing the spirit. Timberlake is said to have a stake in the new brand, though financial terms of the tie-up have not ben disclosed.

The drink will be launched in select markets across the US this year ahead if a wider international rollout.

The actor’s move to Beam marks the end of his creative director role at AB InBev and a knock to the brewer’s bid to appeal to millennials through music. The actor was hired by the business to bring “sexy back” to beer aisles by promoting its Bud Premium Light Platinum as a premium alternative for discerning drinkers.

In a statement the brewer said: ”Bud Light Platinum and Justin Timberlake had an amazing partnership in 2013 that helped both Justin Timberlake and Bud Light Platinum reach deeper connections with consumers. Justin Timberlake will always be a friend of Anheuser-Busch, and we look forward to future opportunities when they arise.”

Beam’s announcement comes just days after rival Diageo revealed plans to exploit the upmarket tequila category with the help of rap artist and entrepreneur Sean “Diddy” Combs. The Johnnie Walker maker has agreed a 50/50 tie-up with the celebrity to purchase ultra-premium tequila brand DeLeon in the hopes of repeating the same success both have had with Ciroc vodka.

The moves from Timberlake and Combs signal the growing interest in the premium alcohol trade from celebrities looking to moneitse their circle of high net worth individual friends. Hollywood actor George Clooney founded the Casmigos ultra-premium tequila brand earlier this year.


Lara O'Reilly

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