COVID-19 Learning: Parting with Profit

Ogden’s Own is the largest independent distillery in Utah. Up until recently, the distillery was perhaps most famous (or infamous, depending on whom you ask) for its Five Wives Vodka, a cheeky take on the presence of Mormonism in its home state. But over the last three months, people have been talking about Ogden’s Own for a much different reason – how they’ve shifted operations to support the community.

Ogden’s Own isn’t shy about crediting the local community for embracing the brand over the last decade and building it from a two-person concept to a multi-million dollar business. With this in mind, back in mid-March, Ogden’s Own CEO Steve Conlin made a bold pledge: to donate 100% of its profits made in March and April to members of the local Utah food and beverage community, specifically, the service staff – bartenders, chefs, waiters and waitresses – that are the backbone of the industry that’s helped them flourish.

Taking the pledge a step further, recognizing the widespread need for hand sanitizer in the wake of a national shortage, Conlin and the Ogden’s Own team saw the opportunity to use their existing infrastructure to begin producing the commodity for local residents, using a recipe sanctioned by the FDA to begin batching it nearly overnight. Instead of solely focusing on producing Five Wives Vodka, Madam Pattirini Gin or Porter’s Whiskey, enter Five Wives Hand Sanitizer. Two months later, Ogden’s Own has now produced more than 30,000 gallons of hand sanitizer for first responders, local government entities, regional corporations, and members of the local community, with no plans of slowing down. They’ve even donated thousands of gallons of hand sanitizer to the much-maligned Navajo Nation, a population struggling significantly with the virus.

Ogden’s Own maintained transparent communication with GreenRoom to aid in supporting the brand’s efforts. Crafting aggressive outreach plans to mirror the monumental shifts in the business and completely reworking an entire month of social content virtually overnight, the agency had to be as nimble as the Ogden’s Own team to remain in lockstep. The strategy was centered around disseminating critical information to keep a community safe rather than any element of self-promotion.

As such, the brand has not only been lauded for its generous actions, but also for its authentic communication and its accessibility to both its local community in-person and its large following on social media, in part due to the efforts of GreenRoom. By providing round-the-clock community management and messaging support, along with asset generation and media relations, GreenRoom ensured that Ogden’s Own had a voice that resonated in both the local and national landscape.

On the PR side, the agency thrust itself into lending real-time counsel and deployment of communication to manage the rampant consumer demand for hand sanitizer. Recognizing the role that the distillery was playing as a regional leader, GreenRoom leaned on its relationships with the local media in Utah and the surrounding states to facilitate media interviews for Ogden’s Own CEO, Steve Conlin, and spotlight features for Ogden’s Own across the digital, print and broadcast platforms. From March-May 2020 alone, Ogden’s Own saw more than 25 individual pieces of broadcast coverage spanning television, radio and podcasts; 20 pieces of print coverage in leading regional newspapers and magazines; and more than 75 online placements. This volume of results was unprecedented to the distillery and sparked a chain reaction: by virtue of the brand’s philanthropic efforts, there was a direct correlation in consumer demand for the spirits in the Ogden’s Own portfolio.

GreenRoom’s Digital Team likewise played a critical role as a mouthpiece for the brand. The social pages exploded and from March-May 2020, we generated over 5 million impressions (a 1,068% increase from the same time last year), over 330k engagements (a 645% increase), drove 24k consumers to our distributors website (a 533% increase) and increased our follower base by 15k (a 4,162% increase). As part of the agency’s community management, several incoming messages of gratitude, brand loyalty and enthusiasm about the brand abounded! A few standouts from Facebook:

“The drivers at the Ogden UPS Center appreciate you for helping us to stay safe as well as the people we are delivering to. Thanks!”

“You’re doing awesome things for this whole area, thanks for the flexibility to be able to change course and provide what is impossible to find!”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! It’s so warming to see companies thinking outside the box and helping during this crisis.”

“My family lives on the Navajo Rez and your selfless act is appreciated more than you know! I’m proud to be from O-town, and my family and friends will definitely be supporting your business. Thank you again!!”

A few standouts from Twitter:

“I’ve often heard that small business is the backbone of a community. I would have never imagined they would be the front-line fighters in a pandemic.”

“So. Awesome. @OgdensOwn has been so generous to our community. Show them some love and order a bottle of one of their brands: @Fivewivesvodka @MadamPattirini @PortersWhiskeys @Underground_33 from”

“This local distillery has earned my business. Thank you @FiveWives Vodka”

On social, the agency launched the #SupportLocal Giveaway to support the local communities, giving away gift cards Ogden’s Own purchased that were to local bars & restaurants. This initiative was one component of the Digital Team’s larger strategy, focused squarely on managing social media communication, launching interactive campaigns, amplifying user generated content and sharing the brand’s actions with the world.

What a difference six months makes – at the beginning of the year, nobody (even Ogden’s Own) would have expected that a Utah distillery would be relied upon as an essential resource for its entire state, but through nimble execution and a passion for helping those in need, that’s exactly what’s happened – and Ogden’s Own has no intentions of stopping any time soon.