It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly a year since we introduced contextual marketing at our 2014 Forum for Marketing Leaders. At that event, we focused on new approaches to marketing that harness the power of customer context to deliver real-time value in customers’ moments of need. This year’s forum for marketing leaders is right around the corner, and we think it’s going to be our best yet.

The 2015 Forum will dive deep into the next-generation marketing organization, addressing the critical challenges today’s marketers face on the road to customer-obsession. And as this year’s conference host, I couldn’t be more excited about the roster of industry CMOs, marketing leaders, and Forrester analysts we’ll hear from next week.

One such speaker: Lori Tieszen, SVP & CMO at Stoli Group USA. I had a chance to catch up with Lori to hear about Stoli’s brand reboot. Here’s a sneak peak at this journey, which we’ll hear Lori talk about in detail next week.

Q. What was behind the decision to create a standalone company to focus on the Stoli brand in the US?

A. With the last importer, William Grant & Sons, Stoli lost share in the vodka category. When the contract was up, our owner, Mr. Yury Shefler, thought it was more important to market and sell his vodka directly versus through a third party. Third party brands, not owned by the importer, are never as important as their own brands.

Q. With such a strong consumer focus on "brown" liquors in the US over the last decade or so, how does Stoli plan to re-inject its brand into that conversation?

A.Consumers today are looking for real, authentic brands and that is why American Whiskey is very attractive to them.  Historically vodka has been seen and marketed as a very superficial category.  With our new positioning, Stoli hopes to show itself as a bit different than the category, to be THE Vodka. Stoli, THE Vodka has been around for over 80 years and was the first imported vodka brought into the US. Many of our values are very similar to young consumers so we think there is relevance.

Q. What tactics and channels is Stoli using to reach the all-important millennial demographic? How do you create a marketing mix to engage them?

A. With today’s young consumers you must use a fully integrated program to reach them wherever they are. We use many different media vehicles including print, outdoor, digital and Social Media. We also use events and PR/earned media as added touch points.

Q. You have a long history in the beverage business. What are the most important changes that you've seen in how consumers develop affinity and loyalty for your brands? And, how have you and the industry had to adapt to those changing behaviors?

A. Yes, I have been in the Beverage Business for over 30 years! First, 10 years in Sales and 20 years in Marketing. For me digital/social media has been the biggest change in the marketing of alcoholic beverages. In some ways it has leveled the playing field as small brands have been able to gain traction directly with the consumer without huge advertising budgets. You need to stay current and well advised on all media trends to take advantage of the opportunities.

Lori Tieszen will present at Forrester’s Forum for Marketing Leaders on April 15. To learn more, visit the event page.