The evolution of the 2020 ambassador: Luke Sanderson, Hendrick’s Gin

Never did we imagine a time when brand ambassadors would be grounded and kept out of the bars they frequent. When coronavirus set the bar industry (and the world) on fire, brand ambassadors, like their bar industry brethren, had to come up with new ways to stay relevant. We all want to be here on the flipside of this, so how does that look? In our September issue, we asked nine of our industry’s brand ambassadors to talk about how their lives have changed since coronavirus.

In this, our second interview, we hear from Hendrick’s Brand Ambassador, Luke Sanderson (formerly of Glenfiddich).

This year has thrown a massive curve ball at everyone in our industry, and the world; how have brand ambassadors maintained their relevance? You can say that again! Ambassadors generally live on the front line, as the connection from our businesses to the industry. It’s been one of the hardest parts of this role to see what our friends and family are going through with the impact of COVID-19. Our own relevance is important but the survival of the industry is even more so! I’ve seen some amazing support campaigns, largely conceptualised and run by ambassadors, helping a variety of industry professionals from food assistance programs like our StandFast Family Dinners, to assisting venues with their cocktail deliveries with giant cocktail shakers on the back of mixer trucks!

In your role specifically, what do you miss the most about life before COVID?
Not travelling is difficult, I had 52 visits to Sydney Airport last year alone! But most of all its the people, seeing your friends in the industry and being able to give them a squeeze. That being said there’s no better feeling than when you’re in the midst of an event, the room is buzzing with chatter from excited guests, music is on point, you’re about to unveil a new whisky to the room and it all falls into place!

It has been said that this pandemic will change the hospitality industry forever. Do you agree with this or not? Explain.
I’m sure it will! The Hospo industry is full of creative and progressive souls who have risen to the many challenges of 2020. We’ve seen cocktail, food and wine deliveries from venues we could only dream of welcoming into our home in 2019, we have businesses rethinking their model and using this time for R & D.

What are your hopes for 2021?
First off a vaccine.. Without one we will be on this rollercoaster of emotions much like 2020. Our hospitality industry flourishing again as the powerhouse of the South Pacific, bums on seats and drams in hands!