Disclosure: I received free craft and drink materials related to this post but was not otherwise compensated and all opinions are my own.
Like a lot of bloggers who have been around since the early days, I get quite a few PR pitches every week. The majority of them are either irrelevant to the focus of my blog or generally not of interest, but occasionally I get a really good one and I'm happy to participate.
In this instance, it was an email with the subject line, "Special Invitation - #ItsGoingToGetUgly This Holiday Season With Maker's Mark!" Well, that was certainly intriguing! Take note, budding PR professionals: the subject line is vitally important for blogger pitches. If you don't catch me there, chances are I won't even read the email.
The message went on to invite me to a Maker’s Mark DIY Ugly Sweater Party in the form of a webinar on a particular evening and asked me to send my address and sweater size if I'd like to participate. I assumed they would be sending alcohol, so I provided my work address because my home state gets snippy about that kind of thing.
The day of the webinar, this is what arrived:
- 1.75 liter bottle of Maker's Mark in a novelty box that disguised it as a fruitcake
- A little sweater for the bottle (apparently a sought-after collectors' item)
- Bottle of Angostura bitters
- Small bottle of orange liqueur
- Small bottle of organic Crown Maple syrup
- Packet of hot chocolate mix
- Tiny jar of edible glitter
- Three small cookie cutters for making fancy orange peel drink garnishes
- A plain white sweater in my size
- LED battery-operated light set
- Fabric glue
- A bag full of different kinds of fabric trim, sequins, patches, etc.
- Small sewing kit with already threaded needles (which was a genius idea for people who would probably be crafting while drinking)
That was pretty impressive and definitely ramped up the excitement for the webinar.
At the proper time in the evening, I lined up all my drink ingredients, including the warm milk, whipped cream and orange that had been cited as the only items not in the kit, and logged into the webinar.
The hosts were New York mixologist Pamela Wiznitzer and celebrity fashion stylist Quentin Cortez Owens. She walked us through the preparation of drinks while he worked on a sweater and offered tips for personalizing them and, most importantly, adding the LED lights (which I haven't done yet).
The first recipe was a Maple Old Fashioned, made with the organic maple syrup instead of simple syrup, Angostura bitters, Maker's Mark (of course) and an orange peel cut into the shape of an evergreen. My shot glass-sized measuring cup has most of the measurements worn off, so I think I made mine a little weak, but it tasted great.
With that drink beside me, I was ready to tackle the sweater decorating. I hadn't given enough thought to how that was going to proceed beforehand, so I had to scramble to set up my card table as the webinar progressed in the background. I got caught up and had my sweater nicely in progress before we prepared the second drink, an orange bourbon hot chocolate. I made mine with almond milk, but I went ahead and took a chance on real whipped cream. It was sprinkled with edible glitter, naturally.
The hosts were very personable and there was a lot of fun interaction between the participants within the hosting application and on Twitter with the hashtag #ItsGoingToGetUgly, although one person tweeted, accurately I thought, "so... @makersmark may have overestimated my ability to tweet, craft and drink at same time." Still, during the span of the webinar I managed to get my sweater done and finish both my drinks.
It was quite an elaborate program, but it went flawlessly and was a lot of fun. It inspired me to sign up for the Maker's Mark Ambassador Program, which will obviously lead me to a long-term relationship with the brand I would not otherwise have had.
Big thumbs-up to Evins Communications for the great job they did coming up with the program. I love to see blogger programs done right!