The evolution of the 2020 ambassador: Thalita Alves, Brown Forman Advocacy NSW

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 third interview of the series we hear from Thalita Alves, Brown-Forman Advocacy NSW…

This year has thrown a massive curve ball at everyone in our industry, and the world; how have brand ambassadors maintained their relevance?
In the past months we had to share that digital space more than ever before. We could not physically visit venues, but we could still connect with the industry. Not only to stay relevant but to offer support through a number of virtual projects, home activities, a phone call, care packages. For us at Brown-Forman advocacy is about educating, engaging and inspiring. And we do it with thought leadership, fostering new ideas, empathy and an openness to change with the times.  What we strive to do day in and day out, beyond these unprecedented times, is to make positive contributions to our bartender community.

In your role specifically, what do you miss the most about life before COVID?
Every single time I see anyone from the industry we go through this moment when we both freeze until someone says ‘Oh, we can’t hug’, then we share a half smile filled with emotions. Honestly what I miss the most is the ‘contact’ aspect of our industry and our relationships. I haven’t had my ‘fix’ of handshakes and hugs this year. Or of dance floors. On top of that I now need to sit down in a bar and actually stay there. No walking around, no talking to people. Can you imagine how hard this is for any of us? For a Brazilian? We are about the people. I miss the organic warmth of our industry.

It has been said that this pandemic will change the hospitality industry forever. Do you agree with this or not? Explain.
As an industry, we have seen adaptations reshaping the way we connect with our customers. We’ve seen merchandise hubs and bottled cocktails expanding a venue’s reach. So yes, I agree that the industry will change. And whilst it can be hard to give up on tradition, it is exciting to embrace new ways. I am currently embracing online meetings and conferences, even bar trainings can be taken online with success.
For 150 years Brown-Forman has been committed to driving sustainable growth, encouraging us to reshape our thinking, walking news paths for the better, at all layers of our company. Life is about adapting. I believe our trade community will weather this storm, and we shall come out stronger on the other side.

What are your hopes for 2021?
If we could have at least the hugs back I would be sincerely happy.