I just got off the phone with Diageo. What a fantastic conversation! It wasn't at all like the sarcastic screenplay I laid out a few days back. It was actually the most constructive, positive, reassuring, and enlightening whisky business encounter I've had in some time. We talked about pricing, about Costco, about how some stores got one deal while another store got a different one, and about how the various pricing worked to undercut or inflate the equity value of important Diageo products. It was an honest, equitable, and revealing dialogue - completely unlike the frustrated, heated, and antagonistic one I presented earlier.
The whisky industry is all about relationships. It's who you know, how long you've known them, and what you've been able to accomplish together that actually gets anything done. It's a lot like what I imagine the U.S. Congress to be. You've got two sides that fight constantly, but the people actually getting anything done are the ones who try and work together, find common ground, and move forward. If we're going to get something done about pricing, it's going to require both sides to do their share. Everything we've accomplished with Ardbeg and LVMH has been born from a wonderful working relationship. I'd love to get that same dynamic working with Diageo because the customers will eventually win when that happens.
Diageo is listening. They're reading this blog. They actually picked up a phone. Who else is willing to work with me on this?
I expressed my frustrations, but then extended my hand and that hand was met with another hand. You can't just bitch about how things don't work. You have to actually try and fix them.
Changes are coming. Let's work together to so that everyone can win. That's my goal.
Oban 18 is still $77.99 though :) That price is good until it's gone!