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See History In A Bottle–Literally–In Jose Cuervo’s New Campaign

219 years’ worth of tequila leaves you with a lot of stories.

How do you celebrate a brand’s 219th birthday? For Jose Cuervo, the choice was clear: celebrate the history that the tequila company has witnessed, and influenced. That was the idea behind the brand’s new “History in a Bottle” campaign, from McCann New York, which includes both TV spots and a “Cuervo History App” to promote the brand’s Cuervo Tradicional label.

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The campaign–which coincides with Cinco de Mayo, a holiday that celebrates the Battle of Peubla that led to Mexican independence and which occurred 67 years after Jose Cuervo began distributing its agave tequila–captures a handful of moments over the past 219 years that were enhanced by the presence of Cuervo. And by “captures,” we mean “literally places them inside bottles.” The video spot shows five moments displayed as dioramas inside of Cuervo bottles.

To complement the fact that Cuervo’s Tradicional is a handcrafted brand of Tequila, the campaign features actual practical-effects miniatures built inside of the bottles, rather than CGI. To bring that miniature history to life, the team commissioned Laika, the stop-motion animation studio behind movies such as Para-Norman and Coraline, to create the pieces.

“We came up with the idea of history in a bottle, and then we thought, ‘Let’s execute that literally,'” says Mat Bisher, SVP/group creative director at McCann New York. “We went to Laika and their treatment was great–right in line with what we wanted to do. We planned out five different scenes throughout history that we recreated in miniature form in these bottles, then we tracked with a camera the different scenes, to tell the story with historical scenes in these little bottles.”

The “History in a Bottle” concept reflects the heritage of the Cuervo brand. Two-hundred-nineteen years is a long time in brand terms, and the fact that Jose Cuervo tequila had existed for 67 years before Mexico was even a country puts that in perspective.


“Cuervo is kind of the original tequila. It’s been in the forefront since the beginning. But there are a fair number of spirits brands that have a history,” Bisher says. “So we wanted to tell their story in an interesting way. But the fact that this is a family, with a handcrafted recipe and a fantastic heritage, gave us the idea. So we picked out moments that put that in perspective.”

The first moment in the spot–the eruption of the Tequila volcano that fertilized the land nearby for the growth of Agave–occurs a couple hundred thousand years before the Cuervo story actually starts. But after that, it starts putting that history in perspective: Jose Cuervo was around for Mexican independence, for prohibition, for the invention of the margarita, and–more recently–the creation of the Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball Series.

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The fact that there’s one liquor that traces a straight line through these facets of Mexican and American history is something that Bisher says the campaign wanted to make clear in every bottle of Jose Cuervo–hence the app.

“Once we had the original idea of “History in a Bottle,” it grew into different media,” he says. “Why couldn’t we make every single bottle of Tradicional on the shelves tell a story on the bottle? That’s where the app came from.”


To activate the app, users align an outline of a virtual Cuervo bottle with the actual bottle in front of them with their phone’s camera; then, the app takes over and illustrates the snapshots of Cuervo history on the display. The result is a 3-D, interactive peek at the original Casa Cuervo in 1795, or the bar in which the margarita was invented in 150 years later.

It’s an intricate campaign that captures history in a unique way–by tucking it right inside the bottle.

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About the author

Dan Solomon lives in Austin with his wife and his dog. He's written about music for MTV and Spin, sports for Sports Illustrated, and pop culture for Vulture and the AV Club

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