In a Breathtaking Minute, Don Julio Tequila Glorifies Mexico's Creative Class

If you blink you'll miss it all

This is lush.

Alongside a bevvy of local creatives, Tequila Don Julio kicks off a new global campaign, "Por Amor," with "A Love Letter to Mexico."

We've all seen ads composed of stylish quick cuts with no narrative relationship. Some heart-tugging, jammy song will hold it all together like a string through Chex, giving our brains just enough to craft something that feels like a story even if there isn't one.

At first glance, this is what "A Love Letter to Mexico" looks like. Actually, it's exactly what its title claims. It is so bursting with love—for a Mexico past and also vividly present—that we're surprised it's managed to be this concise.

The work starts with a vaquero under a spotlight, spinning a lasso. He and his horse are otherwise draped in darkness. "If not for love, then for what?" the screen asks.

Thereafter, the work almost literally pops open. Our eyes adjust to rhinestones, dancing, nighttime pursuits that pierce the darkness as though refracted through crystal. The classic bolero "Por Amor" begins to play—a song that's shapeshifted through time (it was originally created by Rafael Solano of the Dominican Republic). It moves through these interstices of nightlife, nostalgia and pleasure with trancelike efficiency, assembling a Mexico from 10,000 fragments.

Amidst it all, the vaquero reappears, weaving through the ad like a spirit, his ropework hypnotic. The writhing bodies start to look like refractions of this man: Here, a match ignites against a boot. There, people swing through the air or link arms to take shots, mirroring the spirals of the lasso. A beautiful man gazes demurely at us from under a cowboy hat. Past and present engage in a call-and-response ... like the image, above, of the woman in Willy Chavarria pants. Her posture is erect and proud, face draped like the Virgin.

The rhythm intensifies—then sharply ends, right at the minute mark.

The words "Por Amor" appear above the Don Julio logo in an explosion of light. The vaquero walks his horse across an overpass. "Hecho en México," the last frame declares, offering a provenance that reframes what that phrase meant when we were children, encountering it on a peely sticker.

“As a Mexican American artist I have always felt inspired by my culture. To be asked to film a love letter to mi Mexico, as my directorial debut, has been an honor and a great privilege,” says JC Molina, one of the creative minds tapped to give this project life.

"A Love Letter to Mexico" was shot on location. You see streets and markets in Mexico City, Tulum's beaches, and Atotonilco in the highlands of Jalisco, where Don Julio is produced. This also makes the ad a subtle story of terroir, which isn't an unusual narrative choice in spirits advertising. Artisanal heritage is a cherished trope.

But tequila has its own approach to terroir. Where whisky likes a hero's journey and cognac elaborates on its own notes, tequila is more about community. That's its way into the ground. In the last year and a half, a Jalisco-based priest unveiled Sanctus Aquam, whose proceeds support local refugee children. Former actor, designer and filmmaker Diego Osorio founded Lobos 1707 as part of an ancestor quest. And the Patrón ad "Our Hands," from December of last year, is set entirely to the rhythmic clapping of every person upon whose hands the product depends. It was shot at the brand's hacienda in Jalisco, a workplace that felt, in that context, like a temple.

We'd be hard pressed to argue tequila's not itself a spirit, when the language and advertising around it feel so much like offerings: Themes of love, ritual and divine delirium proliferate, and some sense of prostration to a force that, if it chooses, can crush. 

Surrender. That's deep terroir stuff. 

This brings us back to "A Love Letter to Mexico." Like the vaquero and the song, shots of Don Julio appear throughout the ad, cup-runneth-over, Dionysian. This makes sense: Alcohol is often the silent, enabling witness to secret worlds you won't find in a guidebook: Nightlife, leisure, gatherings of groups at the fringes, or the unmasked pleasures of locals. This is Don Julio's particular take on community: such places are creatively fertile. Joy and abandon happen there. Some dazzling new DNA intersects with folklore, relationship to place, and tradition. A month ago, the creative director Carmen Love told us that Mexico's people are way more varied than the stereotypes let on. Here, you get a precious, vertiginous glimpse. 

But it only lasts a minute.

“What truly sets this campaign apart is the entirely new visual identity that we’re unveiling for Tequila Don Julio on a global stage,” says Guilherme Martins, senior marketing director for global tequila at Diageo, as well as Tequila Don Julio's brand director. “'Por Amor' is not just an anthem, but an invitation to celebrate the modern spirit of the country that this brand calls home and collaborate directly with its people who live por amor.

Diageo and the creative team hope to use "Por Amor" as a platform for showcasing Mexican creativity. The campaign rollout will be the biggest in the brand's history. Initial markets include the U.S., Canada and Mexico, with marketing that will include outreach, events, social and digital, paid media and out-of-home.

“The brand’s explosive growth in the U.S. has been a result of sharing our tequila that was created out of love for craft, and this campaign is setting the stage for our next chapter,” explains Christina Choi, senior vice president of tequila at Diageo North America. 

"Por Amor" and "A Love Letter to Mexico" stem from a collab between Anomaly New York, creative and co-director Leanne Amann, and a number of Mexican creatives, including Molina in his directorial debut, cinematographer Flavia Martinez from Mexico City, celebrity photographer and cultural curator Carlos Eric Lopez, stylist Nayeli De Alba, and photographer Thalia Gochez, who shot the supporting OOH work.

The DNA of these people runs so strong through the final product that we'd be remiss if we didn't prove it by sharing their "creator portraits." These were shot by Lopez, and appear in the order they've been mentioned. Hit the arrows to see them all:

Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is the European markets editor at Muse by Clio. She also writes about gaming and fashion, and whatever else she's interested in, really. She's based in Paris and North Italy, so if you're local, say hi. She might eat all your food.

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