Fireball Whisky is facing a scandal in Europe, where its liquor was recalled for containing too much of a chemical found in antifreeze.
The company said it accidentally sent a batch of its US product to Europe, where standards are more stringent.
The liquor is increasingly becoming a threat to more established brands.
In 2011, Fireball sold $US1.9 million worth of whisky in gas stations, convenience stores, and supermarkets, writes Devin Leonard at Bloomberg Businessweek. By 2013, sales had leapt to $US61 million, putting Fireball ahead of Jameson Irish Whiskey and Patrón tequila.
The $US61 million figure doesn’t even include bars, another popular place to consume Fireball.
Fireball, which is described as tasting like cinnamon gum, has become a go-to shot for “young hedonists,” Leonard writes.
The whisky beverage is even close to surpassing Jägermeister, another liqueur commonly consumed as a shot.
Leonard highlights a few ways that Fireball’s marketing campaign helped it skyrocket to success.
1. Targeting college towns. Marketers first dominated the Nashville, Tennessee bar scene, then moved on to Austin, Texas. The company would offer free shots of Fireball to the entire bar. The bar would then take the shot as a group, which left an impression on customers. Eventually, people in those markets began ordering the shots on their own.
2. Enlisting celebrities. Fireball targeted celebrities with large social media followings. For instance, Josh Harris, who stars in Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch,” posted about the beverage on his Facebook page.
3. Drinking contests. The brand ambassadors encouraged bars to have Fireball drinking contests and post pictures of the results to Twitter and Facebook. “Our customers got a big kick out of that,” a former executive said.
As a result of Fireball’s aggressive marketing, it has become the go-to shot, writes Leonard.
“Jäger is dead,” an Austin bartender told Businessweek.
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