Interviews

Published on April 17th, 2018 | by Darren Paltrowitz

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Will Thompson On What It’s Like To Be A Full-Time Brand Ambassador For Grand Marnier

A popular orange-flavored liqeur created in 1880 by Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle, Grand Marnier is made from a blend of Cognac brandy, distilled essence of bitter orange, and sugar. Available at a variety of price points and in a variety of flavors, Grand Marnier can be found for under $50 in the form of Cordon Rouge and closer to $1,000 via Quintessence. Cuvée du Centenaire — first introduced in 1927 — and Cuvée 1880 are two of the more “middle-priced” offerings of Grand Marnier, although both products are definitely known to be on the higher spectrum of liqueurs.

For many, the idea of being a brand ambassador for a top-tier liqueur seems like it would be a dream job. When speaking with Will Thompson, a Grand Marnier Brand Ambassador, I had the opportunity to ask more about what his everyday life entails in holding that position. Fortunately, I received some wonderful responses while also learning more about the luxury-oriented brand he represents. More on Grand Marnier can be found online at www.grand-marnier.com.

Do you have a personal favorite of the Grand Marnier liqueurs?

Will Thompson: I think it’s hard to pick just one, because they each absolutely have their own time and place, but my all-time go-to has to be the Cuvée du Centenaire. It’s everything great about Grand Marnier turned all the way up — the cognac in the blend is older, there’s more of it and it’s from more prestigious crus, but it’s still immediately identifiable as Grand Marnier.

How did you first get involved with Grand Marnier?

Will Thompson: Our portfolio ambassador, Anne Louise Marquis, is a close friend, and had been working with the brand for years. When they needed to find someone to work with Grand Marnier for the East Coast, she reached out, and it became clear quickly that it was a great fit.

What is a typical workday like for you? Are you on the road more often than not?

Will Thompson: Absolutely no such thing as typical, which is a huge blessing for me. I like some small routines in my life, but monotony sounds just every kind of terrible. My daily, weekly, and monthly calendar are all over the place; on paper, I’m on the road four days a week, three weeks a month, but the reality is way more varied. It feels like every city has its own cocktail week, or food festival, or a million different things, and it’s important that we stay in touch with our industry, so we try to make sure we have a hand on as much of that stuff as possible. The chance to see what the rest of the country is doing is absolutely one of the best parts of the job.

Do you feel that there are any misconceptions about the life of a brand ambassador?

Will Thompson: I think most people are vaguely confused about what a brand ambassador does, which is fair as every company has their own understanding of the role and responsibilities. Most people, intentionally, see ambassadors when they’re out on the town, visiting accounts or entertaining, which makes the job seem like it’s one long cocktail party. But there’s way more to it than that.

When not busy with work, how do you like to spend your free time?

Will Thompson: There’s a lot of talk about Brand Ambassador’s “freshman 15” — the weight you put on about six months into the gig. Trying to make sure that doesn’t catch up with me has become a part of my day. I try to make sure I’m taking care of myself at least a little. Going out as much as we do, if you’re not able to make time for a run, or to read, or just to take a half a day on the couch once in a while, I think you’d burn out almost immediately. I also always try and take a little time to enjoy whatever city I’m in. I know I’m better at my job if I can sneak off for an hour and a half to check out a museum or the street art or whatever the place I’m in has to offer.

What was the last concert you attended for fun?

Will Thompson: I accidentally ended up at an LCD Soundsystem show the last time I was in Boston, which was very fun. Before that was Kendrick [Lamar] in Chicago, I think. Planning for shows can be hard since your schedule tends to pivot on a dime, so you kind of have to hope you’re just in the right place at the right time and someone’s got a ticket for you.

Grand Marnier or not, what is your drink of choice?

Will Thompson: Totally situational, but my all-time MVP mixed drink has to be a mezcal margarita with Grand Marnier.

Finally, Will, any last words for the kids?

Will Thompson: I mean, I am certainly not trying to tell anyone how to live their life. But from the little bit I have seen, it seems like, regardless of what you’re doing, you have to keep pushing forward, because there’s always someone right behind you who’s going to be willing to work harder and complain less. That, and I think every good thing in this world that happens to a person happens because they managed to find themselves in the right room at the right time.


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About the Author

Darren Paltrowitz is a New York resident with over 20 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his then-favorite band Superdrag. Since then, he has worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Tracy Bonham, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer. Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World, TheStreet.com, Businessweek, Chicago Tribune, L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal. Beyond being "Editor At Large" for The Hype Magazine, Darren is also the host of the bi-weekly "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" podcast, as co-produced with V13 (formerly PureGrainAudio.com). He has also co-authored two published books, 2018's "Pocket Change: Your Happy Money" (Book Web Publishing) and 2019's "Good Advice From Professional Wrestling" (6623 Press), with a second podcast set for a June 2020 launch.


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