Cold River Vodka First Pour

Cold River Vodka

EVENT PLANNING: Cold River Vodka First Pour


  • Generate interest in Cold River Vodka (CRV) throughout New England in the days before it was to be first shipped to stores
  • Garner coverage of the event on all three southern Maine TV news stations
  • Secure attendance from a minimum of 10 key journalists included on a highly targeted media list
  • Host a minimum of 250 guests

After more than two years of business planning, batch process testing, taste testing and package design, Maine Distilleries, the maker of CRV, was ready to debut the state's first potato vodka in Maine stores. Before consumers got their hands on “the Spirit of Maine,” Maine Distilleries wanted to introduce CRV at an invite-only “First Pour” event for friends, southern Maine business owners, media, as well as potential wholesale customers. Nancy Marshall Communications (NMC) needed to organize the event so it would create a signifi cant buzz about the top-shelf super premium vodka days before it arrived in stores.

Maine Distilleries secured the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport, Maine as the location for the event and worked with the chef to create a menu of food and specialty cocktails that highlighted the brand. NMC was responsible for coordinating the rest. The agency had an approximate budget of $12,000 for media relations, creating and mailing the invitation, tracking RSVPs, and coordinating an event press conference.

NMC began by developing a targeted list of local newspaper writers, freelance journalists, wine and spirit writers, and southern Maine television news assignment editors. Th e list needed to be highly selective to reflect the exclusivity of the event. Media outlets represented at the event needed to possess the ability to spread the word rapidly and make the general public curious about the product.

A sophisticated invitation that showcased the Cold River Vodka brand was developed and distributed to all invited guests including the media. Impactful prose creatively conveyed the unique story of this high-end vodka made from Maine potatoes, the brainchild of an unlikely team including a neurosurgeon, potato farmer, ski coach and beer consultant. The story succeeded in capturing the interest of the media and prospective customers.

Well over 300 guests showed up the night of the launch party. Thirteen members of the press, including a highly sought-after Associated Press reporter, were among that number. Coverage of the event aired on all three southern Maine television news broadcasts. The Governor of Maine spoke at the press conference coordinated by NMC, congratulating the foursome on their success. Immediate media coverage went as far north as the Presque Isle Star-Herald and as far south as the Boston Herald and the Boston Globe. Within weeks, the story was picked up by media outlets in Dallas, Los Angeles, and Canada.

Thanks to the significant buzz created through the “First Pour” event, Maine Distilleries sold out of CRV for three consecutive weekends.