When hard times strike your beverage company, what do you do?

Chicken Cock Whiskey found the silver lining of an unfortunate circumstance and turned the event into an opportunity to gain brand exposure.

In mid-June, the Prohibition-era brand posted a press release calling for help to regain 884 stolen cases of whiskey. The company reported that an 18-wheel tractor-trailer loaded with more than 10,000 bottles of Chicken Cock Whiskey was stolen from a gas station and truck stop in Florence, S.C.  

“I guess it’s fitting that a brand that rose to prominence as a bootleg bourbon during Prohibition gets hijacked just as it returns to market in 2013,” said Matti Anttila, the brand’s owner and president, in a statement. “While I appreciate the irony in this situation, we really would like our whiskey back.” He also offered a $10,000 reward for the whiskey’s safe return.

On the upside, by calling attention to the theft through the press release, interviews and social media posts, the news spread quickly, and Chicken Cock’s brand awareness rose significantly, Anttila says. The brand was careful not to over-publicize the event, however, and instead allowed the story to develop virally, he adds.

“The amount of publicity and genuine concern by the trade and public has been amazing,” he says. “It’s hard to quantify how many more people know about Chicken Cock today than before the heist, but needless to say, it’s significant.”

 Authorities recovered the missing truck cab a few days after the heist, but the trailer and whiskey bottles were still at large as of press time. “We can only speculate where it is now, but if we don’t find it, our only hope is that the people enjoy it, become loyal customers, and help drive lawful sales in the future,” Anttila says.