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Jordan’s tequila venture

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Anthony L. Cuaycong

Courtside

It’s a testament to the continued pull of Michael Jordan that he continues to command top billing even when mentioned alongside other marquee figures. Anything he does becomes fodder for hoops habitues, never mind that he hasn’t played competitively since April 2003, and that his transition to the front office as the principal investor of the Hornets has been far from smooth and successful. Not that it’s surprising; after all, he’s the best of the best of all time, and his image and likeness adorn the Jordan Brand line of Nike gear that netted close to $3 billion in revenues last year.

In this regard, seeing Jordan hog headlines for selling a minority stake in the Hornets was nothing out of the ordinary. Neither was finding his name first in a short list of National Basketball Association franchise owners dabbling in the tequila business. A simple dinner with the Celtics’ Wyc Grousbeck, the Lakers’ Jeanie Buss, and the Bucks’ Wes Edens three years ago — during which a bond for the blue agave beverage was formed — thereafter found him engaged in mapping the future of Cincoro Tequila. So involved was he that he even tapped Nike Innovation creative director of special projects Mark Smith to help design the bottle in which the four blends would be distributed.

From the looks of things, the newly launched Cincoro Tequila is well on its way to success. As Emilia Fazzalari, Grousbeck’s wife and founding partner of Cinco Spirits, noted, the aim is to make available the four flavors, which range from the unaged $70 Blanco to the 44-month $1,600 Extra Anejo, in all 50 states, and then outside North America. “We cannot wait to share Cincoro to the world,” she said, even as she revealed sellouts in a handful of the 12 markets they are currently in. Not coincidentally, Cincoro — “five gold” in Spanish — references the partners and the venture’s aim to be “the gold standard in tequila.”

Needless to say, the attachment to Jordan figures to be a boon as Cincoro Tequila widens its presence. It has widely highlighted his participation, and his high Q Score and status as the highest-paid athlete of all time should help it in its aim to be top of mind in the category. Competition is fierce, but it’s already off to a fast start. And if he, Grousbeck, Buss, and Edens continue to devote time and effort to its growth, the safe bet is that it won’t just survive, but thrive.

 

Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and Human Resources management, corporate communications, and business development.

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