Marketing Maker’s Mark (B): Diluting the Brand?

Case Details Case Introduction 1 Case Introduction 2 Case Excerpts


The case revolves around the decision of Kentucky based-bourbon company, Maker’s Mark, to dilute the alcohol content of its iconic product, and the subsequent roll-back of the decision following a backlash from its loyal customers. The whole incident was likened to what is considered the biggest marketing fiasco of Coca-Cola Company, which reformulated its existing product in 1985 and introduced a New Coke.

The Coca-Cola fiasco is considered to be a part of marketing folklore. Maker’s Mark had created and created a brand and cultivated a loyal customer base. In addition to its Ambassador Loyalty Program, the company had relied heavily on online and offline word-of-mouth marketing. Moreover, the bourbon maker had evolved from a no-marketing company to a promotion savvy one.

Marketing Case Studies | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Marketing, Case Studies
Marketing Case Studies | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Marketing, Case Studies
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The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:

  • Understand the marketing initiatives adopted by Maker’s Mark over the years and how the brand leveraged social media for marketing communication.
  • Analyze the company’s decision to dilute the product, and its response to the consumer backlash that followed.
  • Discuss and debate whether the decision of Maker’s Mark was a public relations fiasco or a clever marketing stunt.
  • Discuss the implications for brands in this new age, which is marked by a proliferation of social media where consumer reactions can make or mar a brand.

Background Note
Past Marketing Initiatives
Growing Demand And Product Shortage
Decision To Dilute The Brand
Reversing The Decision
PR Fiasco Or Marking Stunt?
The Road Ahead


New Coke fiasco; Manage demand; Manage shortage; Marketing communication; PR fiasco; Clever PR stunt; Crisis communication; Digital marketing; Loyal customer base; Social media; Brand Management; Branding; Brand differentiators; Bourbon industry

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