Brand dilution: Did Chris Rock inspire Maker’s Mark?

Marker’s Mark Bourbon may have made the single dumbest marketing decision ever.

They decided to stretch short supplies of Maker’s Mark by diluting it … by  literally adding water.

The company must have been inspired by either:

(a) millions of teenage boys who replenished  their dad’s whiskey bottle by adding water after taking a swig, or

(b) Chris Rock’s hilarious minute-long bit on ‘Tussin … which is guaranteed to make you chuckle.


If you run out of ‘Tussin, no problem.

Just put some water in the bottle and shake it up.

Just like that … mo’ ‘Tussin  …  mo’ ‘Tussin

* * * * *
OK, back to the Maker’s Mark story …

By now everybody has probably heard that Maker’s Mark bourbon got themselves into a bit of a mess.

The primary cause: runaway sales.

Why’s that a problem?

Well, bourbon whiskey takes a few years to age … and a couple of years ago, Maker’s Mark management bet the under on future demand and didn’t start enough MM flowing through the distilling process.

So, Maker’s Mark can’t meet the market demand.

They can ramp up production, but the new brew won’t be ready for 6 years.

So, what did the jabrones decide to do … and why is it a problem?

They could’ve reread a chapter from econ 101 and let the price rise to “clear” the market demand.

They didn’t want to do that because it would create a “price umbrella” that might let a lower-priced brand steal some of it’s mid-range action.

MM certainly didn’t want to risk getting known as a premium brand, right?

Or, the company could have distributed its scarce supplies strategically.

You know, making sure that the retailers and bars that support it through thick-and-thin get their shipments … and stiff their fair-weather friends.

Nope.  That might alienate some low brow bars and deal-buying retailers.

So, what did the nitwits decide to do?

You guessed it: add water to the bottle and shake it up… just like that … mo’ Mark … mo’ Mark.

The company did taste tests and concluded that consumers couldn’t tell the difference between the the original blend and the watered-down version.

Technical note: It’s reported, but unconfirmed, that several of the watered-down MM testers had their bladders explode before they got the distinctive Maker’s Maker buzz.

Think about that for a second.

Not the buzz, the taste test.

Drinkers couldn’t tell the difference.

So, cue bars to start watering down Maker’s Mark drinks (even more) …  and cue consumers to just add water at home to stretch their supplies.

In other words,  why don’t we permanently suppress sales.

Great idea, guys.

Adding to the irony, check out this Maker’s Mark ad …

Punch line “It is what it isn’t”.


It’s water not whiskey.


Maker’s Mark has given new meaning to the phrase “brand dilution”

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