For Amiel “Happy” Mercado, throwing parties, attending festivals and pushing vodka are all in a day’s work.
Mercado, dubbed “Happy” at camp as a kid, certainly has something to smile about. His job as the Event Marketing Manager at Tito’s Handmade Vodka requires him to throw parties to promote the brand.
A typical day at the office does not exist for Mercado.
“If I am at a festival, I am on site until it’s over,” Mercado said. “Sometimes it’s 8 a.m. to 4 a.m., and then I do it all over again the next day.”
Some of Mercado’s favorite music festivals where he represented Tito’s Handmade Vodka include SXSW, Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza. Mercado said he likes the food and wine festivals too because he loves food and drinks.
“It’s really awesome getting to taste the different flavors from around the country, and at the same time showcase our product to people who have good taste,” Mercado said.
Mercado’s journey to his current job began at Texas State in 2003 as a marketing major. His top two colleges coming out of high school were the University of Texas and Texas State. He chose Texas State.
“Without being the Texas State poster child, it’s a great value for the same education and for less money,” Mercado said. “It was kind of a no-brainer to stay there. Then, once I was at Texas State, I fell in love with it anyway.”
Even before it became his job to throw parties for a living, Mercado was a happy guy.
Lindsay Childers, Texas State alumna, remembers Mercado from her days living on campus.
“We lived at San Jacinto Hall together. I saw him outside on the benches every day, talking to anyone and everyone,” Childers said. “His name is really fitting. He isn’t in-your-face happy, but he has a great outlook on things, and he is very friendly.”
Like many other students, Mercado had a few different jobs while in college. He worked at Gristmill in Gruene as a waiter and lead trainer, at Texas State as a camp advisor for summer camps, and at Camp Sweeney as an advisor for a couple of summers.
His last job before graduation, and the one that had the biggest impact on his life, was an internship at Sweet Leaf Tea.
He said as the semester progressed, the internship began to lean more toward event marketing. He talked Sweet Leaf Tea into becoming his first employer as a college graduate in 2007.
“At the culmination of my internship and graduation, I convinced them to take me on to handle events,” Mercado said. “At that time, they didn’t have anyone working full-time doing local events. So I essentially became their first brand ambassador and field marketing manager.”
Mercado said he started planning events locally for Sweet Leaf Tea, and eventually the company was sending him everywhere, including a trip to Lubbock in Sweet Leaf’s trademark school bus, which maxed out at 45 miles per hour and had no air conditioning or radio.
“It was the longest nine hours of my life,” Mercado recalls.
Mercado said his role at Sweet Leaf Tea evolved into a marketing manager. He supervised four event-marketing managers and took over Sweet Leaf Tea’s internship program. He has registered Sweet Leaf Tea with career services and hired many students from Texas State.
But eventually it was time for a change. After receiving the blessing of his boss at Sweet Leaf Tea, Mercado began promoting Tito’s. He said the transition was an easy one.
“Naturally, Sweet Leaf Tea and Tito’s Vodka go together,” Mercado said. “Both are locally-based products. They both party together throughout the year and trade products for different marketing events. I became friends with Tito’s and Beth Bellanti-Walker, who is now a Creative Partner.”
Mercado said he some day hopes to have his own agency that could encompass digital marketing, event marketing, and festival productions.