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Interview: Aviation Gin’s Ryan Reynolds And Davos Brands CEO Andrew Chrisomalis

February 7, 2020

Hollywood star Ryan Reynolds took a stake in Aviation gin in 2018, partnering with New York-based importer and marketer Davos Brands. Since then, the super-premium gin label ($30) has roughly quadrupled in size from a small base, surpassing 80,000 cases last year, propelled by national chain placements in both the on- and off-premise. SND associate editor Shane English spoke with Reynolds and Davos Brands CEO Andrew Chrisomalis to see what’s on the agenda for 2020.

SND: Ryan, what first drew you to Aviation, and what has changed since you came onboard as a co-owner?

Reynolds: My introduction to the brand was back when I was shooting Deadpool in Vancouver. There was a restaurant that I’d frequented, and they featured Aviation in their Negroni. My initial goal was just to invest in the company, but my wife encouraged me to think bigger, and I bought a significant chunk and became an owner. In 2019, Aviation just exploded.

Chrisomalis: December was the biggest month in the brand’s history. For 2019, we grew 117% year-over-year to 83,000 cases, and we’ve now had back-to-back years of triple-digit growth.

SND: Aviation has taken some innovative approaches to marketing, including a recent spot that appeared within a larger ad for Samsung and Netflix. How did that come about?

Reynolds: It was lightning in a bottle. Netflix often wants to do tie-ins with actors starring in their big movies. And 99% of the time actors, myself included, say no to those opportunities. But Netflix had approached us asking if I’d waive my fee if Samsung featured Aviation in some context in their ad. My creative partner George Dewey and I had this idea of doing a mid-roll ad placement. We just thought it was funny to create a situation in which an ad was sponsoring another ad. The project was almost killed a couple of times, but at the last second, with two days’ notice, it worked out and people loved it.

SND: What key national and regional chains are you working with?

Chrisomalis: In the on-premise Ryan has helped us with some of our biggest partners: Yard House, TGI Fridays, and AMC Theaters. The Four Seasons Hotels are also coming onboard. It’s been similar in the off-premise, where we’re going after the national opportunity with Albertsons, Safeway, Spec’s in Texas, Publix in Florida, and Binny’s in Illinois. The brand is growing in equal measures on- and off-premise.

Reynolds: Total Wine as well. We’re definitely driving for another triple-digit growth year.

Chrisomalis: Total Wine is the biggest, in fact. What Ryan has been able to do is recruit new consumers for us, both at retail and on-premise, and broaden the audience for the gin category.

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