Ingrid Best; EVP, Global Head of Marketing Spirits at Combs Enterprises, joined Charlamagne Tha God and Angela Yee on ”The Breakfast Club to discuss her success in the spirits industry and her experience working with Diddy.
Best, who now works closely with the mogul on Ciroc and DeLeon, has a two-decade long history in the marketing world — beginning with street promotions for major record labels. She then went on to launch a brand for a Diageo, then LVMH, and then transitioned to Bacardi to work with JAY-Z’s team on Dusse. But, as her career began to pick up steam, she credits Diddy’s deal with Ciroc for being the “turning point” in her career. “It was the first time...Black and Brown people got to see someone that had a seat at the table,” she said in her interview.
In the beginning of the conversation, the CE boss fondly recalled her start as a street promoter for record labels including Bad Boy. She also recognized her beginnings in street promotion as inspiration for the work she does today at Combs Enterprises.
When discussing her approach to marketing for Ciroc and DeLeon, the topic of the brands’ notoriously impressive gift packages came up. In regard to just how amazing the marketing team’s gifting ability is, C Tha God noted that people like Best, who have experience in the hip hop world, seem to have a special ability to understand how to market their product. Best agreed by stating her approach to marketing through gifting “does come from those early days.” She added that “you do tap back into those little things that you could do that could be hugely impactful.”
The conversation then moved to Best’s marketing team who Yee noted was made up of all Black women — which is unprecedented. The leader proudly stated that she has “seven black women marketers that are incredible.” She continued that “they are what make me great.” Best explained that one of the most important things about having a team of Black women marketers is that they “look like the consumer we’re talking to.”
From sponsoring the Verzuz battles to knowing just what to put in promotional packages, she credits her team for having their fingers on the pulse and truly understanding the culture.
Yee then asked if Best faced racism in her journey to the top to which she bluntly answered “a lot.” She explained that this racism she endured in the spirits world is what motivated her to recruit Black women to Combs Enterprises. Best said, “I knew that I would be in a situation to go back and grab a lot of these young women that have been through [a lot] like myself where you’re not getting the appropriate titles; you're not being offered the appropriate packages.”
Yee also brought up Best’s son, who she had at 18 years old, and asked how she managed her career and being a young mother. “He certainly has been my reason. And it wasn't easy...I knew early on, without my tribe, I wasn't gonna be able to balance the love I had for being an adult professional and a career person, and the responsibility I had to being a parent.” Best said.
The marketing great admitted that it was never an issue for her, but she witnessed women who were afraid to be vocal about their responsibilities as mothers for fear that it would put their job at risk. “There’s a lot of women that don’t feel like they can say, I’m gonna be 15 minutes late today because child care is opening later or I have to leave early — and I can still get my job done — but I gotta leave early because I have a parent teacher meeting.”
Best also discussed her connection to Bay Area legend Sway, whom she once interned for. She credited her “connection to entertainment” to him, but her ability to begin her career as a teenaged mother. It was a job she was able to do as a young person with a new baby, and allowed her to build her passion for marketing.
Because of the doors her internship opened, the CE executive stated that she wanted to see more young people doing internships and said that the opportunity to do them “needs to be easier, it needs to be more accessible.” She emphasized this point especially for young people who do not have a higher education. “There doesn't need to be all this bureaucracy when someone is just trying to figure out what they're good at,” Best stated.
In the final moments of the interview, Yee asked what advice the boss would give to someone who wanted to get into her position. Her first point: discipline. Best explained that in an industry that is full of vices, “You gotta have a lot of discipline.” When she is at promotional events, she knows what she has to do to remain focused to do her job well, and keeping that discipline is what allows her to do that.
Her next piece of advice, especially to young women of color, is that they belong in the spirits industry. “There is a place for you, whether it’s at Combs Enterprises, whether it’s at some of the other companies that are out there. Primarily, because again, the consumer looks like you.”
Watch Ingrid’s full interview below!