Former Greencross, Seafolly CMO launches her own spirits brand

Greencross brings on Nick Adams as its new chief customer officer as its former CMO, Adriane McDermott, debuts her own low alcohol spirits brand, Tanica

Former Greencross and Seafolly marketing leader, Adriane McDermott, has taken the leap into running her own FMCG business and co-founded a new low alcohol botanical spirit brand.

Tanica is the brainchild of McDermott plus two co-founders from the creative and marketing realm and stems from McDermott’s experience consulting and mentoring startups as well as running her ‘ginfluencer’ blog, @ginfolly.

With a passion for spirits, and five years’ experience leading shopper insights and category development at Diageo in the early 2000s, McDermott already had the foundations for launching such a brand. She told CMO it was experimenting with weekday cocktail making at home during the Covid lockdowns, coupled with a break between marketing gigs, that triggered the ultimate step into startup land.

In researching a way to make the ‘ideal’ drink, McDermott said she had been looking for something that was delicious, tapped into Australian native and natural ingredients, but didn’t come with a nasty hangover the next day.

“I just couldn’t find what I was looking for, there was a real gap,” McDermott said. “I believe the best product ideas come from seeing an intersection of behavioural trends, commercial and consumer needs. The exciting part of starting up a new brand is trying to solve for these needs as creatively and cost effectively as possible – and being true to a distinctive visual and emotional narrative.”

Adriane McDermottCredit: Seafolly
Adriane McDermott

Tanica debuted in October 2021 and has two flavours boasting one-quarter of the alcohol of full-strength spirits: No.1 Salted Plum & Ginger and No. 2 Desert Lime & Thyme. No.1 is a rosé blush colour and features Prosecco, plum and Murray River pink salt flakes with wild strawberry gum from Western Australia. No.2 is margarita-inspired and combines a citrus blend of native desert lime puree, yuzu juice, thyme and elderflower.

McDermott said the founding trio were keen to make the product as much a visual experience as a drinking one and drew on combined expertise in fashion, beauty and interiors to devise the aesthetics of Tanica. This has included sourcing and decorating bottles by Saverglass in France with a full-spray technique she said it not available in Australia. The brand also uses premium Italian wood stoppers from Tapi.

Tanica is available direct or via Dan Murphy’s online, and there are plans to bring on further retail stockists. McDermott noted the lower excise tax on Tanica delivers a better margin for customers in wholesale distribution and sees the team selling Tanica online direct to consumers with free shipping for $58 a bottle.

Supporting the brand vision is the tagline, ‘Spirits Lifted’. The launch strategy was heavily skewed to PR and saw Tanica gain significant media coverage in mainstream mastheads such as The Sydney Morning Herald, 9-Honey and Body & Soul. Tanica has also benefitted more widely from the growing mindful drinking trend.

Stopping then starting up

Having built out the marketing and business plan in the early days of Covid, McDermott made the decision to put the Tanica proposition on hold to take up the role of CMO at Greencross in July 2020. But she said the lure of the growing alternative spirits category proved too enticing and she left the Petbarn parent company in December.  

Greencross has now brought on former Telstra and Allianz marketing leader, Nick Adams, as its new chief customer officer. Adams was previously the chief market manager at Allianz for three years, and also held senior marketing roles previously at Telstra, Westpac and American Express. He has spent most of 2021 as interim CMO of amaysim while Renee Garner was on maternity leave.

Nick AdamsCredit: Allianz
Nick Adams

 “This whole venture became more and more attractive to me as an outsider to the category, wanting to create something completely new, roll up my sleeves and use my brand marketing experience to support my own ambitions,” McDermott commented. “I never wanted to say I wish I had followed through with it, so I did.

“After working at scale on well-established brands for so many years, it is a real challenge to go back to square one. It really forces you to be closer to real-time feedback and make quicker decisions about what is truly important to the customer and brand for growth.

“I imagine it like a tiny ember in starting a fire from scratch. You need to be smart and patient but if you get it right it can feel a thousand times more fulfilling than doing it the easy way.”  

Prior to joining Greencross, McDermott was the marketing leader for swimwear brand, Seafolly, a role which saw her recognised in the CMO50 list of Australia's most innovative and effective marketing leaders in 2018 and 2019.

Adams praised McDermott for an outstanding job building a talented team, brand and customer platform and said GreenCross Pet Wellness Company and Petbarn are in a strong position. He told CMO he was looking forward to the fresh professional challenge and new category.

“So, why GreenCross? It will come to you as no surprise that there are more pets than ever before and we increasingly treat them like part of the family - creating an ever-growing bond between pet and pet parent,” Adams said in a LinkedIn post.

“Joining GreenCross is an opportunity to work with the leader in this large and fast-growing industry and in the process make the world happier place through the love of pets.

“I am looking forward to working with the highly successful GreenCross leadership team and building the next chapter with the talented marketing and digital community at GreenCross.”  

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