A seat at the Jager table

To many Jagermeister is the spirit of choice for those on a night-out. The cry for Jagerbombs- a shot of Jager with RedBull, (the cause of many a hangover)- is an all too common occurence amongst students and those-trying- to- relive- their- student-days alike on a friday night.

With this idea entrenched so heavily in the partying mindset, it is interesting, to see an ad from across the pond which tries to break-away from this idea.

As part of the Stronger Bond campaign the TVC, a ‘Seat at the Table’ for Jagermeister shows a secret elite brotherhood of made up of figures from American sporting teams and popular culture who welcome a new member before raising a toast with their favourite tipple, a shot of Jager. As the VO tells us, places at the table are earnt and it is clear that if you are to be a Jagermeister drinker you should be a person who has achieved something.

In some ways, the brand is staying true to the image we already have of it- the Jagerbomb ritual is probably the closest we will get to the traditional idea of a toast on a night out. On the other hand however, Jagermeister is stepping away from its ‘night-out’ charcteristics by setting up figures of aspiration for consumers.

This ad is perhaps not the best execution in the world, but is interesting to see how a spirit which has so greatly embedded itself in party culture, is trying to create a brand identity itself rather than relying on popular culture.

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Balvenie: A lesson in bottle shots

In their latest press ad, Balvenie have really demonstrated how to effectively position their whisky into the field of type of genuine intellectual refinement a culturally-minded Asian market will aspire to.

By placing their bottle against a hand scribbled music manuscript, Balvenie are clearly saying that they are the whisky of choice for those leanred enough to, for instance, write their own classical music. They are making their whisky part of an artwork, as the copy line suggests, it is literally a product of ‘Art of Handcraft’.

There is, also a clear artistic link between product and graphic. The bottle itself complements the background. The numerous serial numbers and handwritten details make this whisky appear authentic and individual: as if it has come straight from the distillery, rather than massed produced in a bottling plant.

This ad, in short, is a great example of how to use imagery to make a bottle shot a little bit more than just a bottle shot, instead making it a testament to the brand experience.


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Glenfiddich: One day you will climb Everest

In 2010, scotch single malt Glenfiddich, launched its ‘One day you will’ campaign which attempted to establish a brand identity promoting the pioneering spirit of the founder, William Grant. An online CRM initiative, ‘Glenfiddich Explorers’ ran alongside a visually-lead press campaign, asking consumers to join an online community and contribute to a  quasi-Pinterest predecessor, detailing all sorts of adventure ideas from Hiking the Smokies to Unusual Restaurants. In short, Glenfiddich wanted to show a more exciting and inspiring brand identity than a traditional scotch.

A year later, the brand took this one step further, moving into the world of sponsorship. The brand became the primary sponsor of an expedition run by the charity Walking with the Wounded which recruited a group of injured servicemen to climb to the summit of Everest. The sponsorship was integrated into their above-the-line and online advertising and this spring appeared heavily outdoor.

Alongside this, Glenfiddich ran a competition looking for 4 ‘adventurers’ to join the expedition as far as Everest Base Camp. As well as gaining a place on the expedition, the lucky winners will experience a whisky tasting to be streamed online and designed to ‘bring a taste of the Highlands to the Himalayas’.

The move into sponsorship shows an intelligent development of the ‘One day you will’ campaign which perhaps initially had difficulty in connecting to the product. Firstly, the activity enhances the brand’s promotion of discovery and pioneership which it sparked with the ‘Glenfiddich Explorers’ initiative. Secondly, this sense of wanderlust allows Glenfiddich to shake off the slightly stuffy image of a traditional scotch. And thirdly, by pairing itself with a charity supporting the forces, Glenfiddich is tapping into the timely sense of patriotism, particularly pertinent in the UK.

However, given the heavy focus on the charity expedition the tactical campaign falls down to some extent in how it advertises the product. The outdoor and press executions do not include any bottle shots and could be easily be confused with an ad for hiking attire. Granted, the ad builds a strong brand identity, but it fails to show any ‘ownable’ whisky territory or situations the audience could really relate to whisky drinking. Moreover, Glenfiddich has chosen to place these sponsorship ads all over outdoor but has not noticeably done the same with executions for the rest of the ‘One day you will’ campaign, meaning that some of the brand messaging these executions established has become lost.

Nevertheless, the continuing development of the Glenfiddich brand, lead by the ‘Glenfiddich Explorers’ campaign, is definitely one to watch in the spirits world. Not only has it really found its feet and enhanced its brand identity with sponsorship of an event, but it really seems to have pulled on the heartstrings of its UK market. Instead of setting its CRM as a point of social aspiration, like other brands such as Johnnie Walker have done, Glenfiddich is becoming an advocate for adventure, encouraging consumers to go beyond the everyday. Whether their product branding will start to reflect this is another matter, but for now the brand has achieved strong links to values beyond the world of whisky and stuffy connoisseurship.

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Any the Wiser?

To be ‘wise’ according to one reliable dictionary source is ‘having or showing experience, knowledge and good judgement’. In the modern-day mindset of Canadian whisky brand, Wiser, this translates into saving face whilst shopping with you girlfriend:

On the one hand, like the Fireball ad a few months ago, it is nice to see a bit of humour being injected into a category which is still shrouded in the image of old men in tweed. Granted, The Wiserhood and The Society of Uncompromising Men is a creative idea but you do wonder, if the brand wasn’t so keen to gain exposure, it would have come up with something a bit more sophisticated than just playing on the ‘wise’ in ‘wiser’….

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Space, the final Whisky frontier?

Ardbeg, a Scotch distillery on the west-coast isle of Islay has become the focus of the Edinburgh Science Festival. In October last year, the ingredients for one of their single malts was blasted into orbit to join the International Space Station in an attempt to discover the effects of gravity on the maturation process, specifically on terpenes- the molecules which give a whisky its aroma and flavour.

The American company responsible for the research, NanoRacks LLC, hopes that the experiment will help other industries in the development of new products, both in and outside the world of food.

Despite the whisky’s origin, thanks to the strong guidelines on what makes a scotch, Scotch the unmatured malt in orbit can only be labelled as ‘crafted molecules’ as it will not have been matured in oak casks on a Scottish isle for 3 years, as the rules dictate.

Any hope of a revolution in flavour development will have to wait however. Scientists will not be able to test the new substances until 2014 when the cargo spacecraft returns to Earth. Dr Bill Lumsden, head of distilling and whisky creation at Ardbeg, (pictured) nevertheless remains optimistic: ‘We are all tremendously excited about this experiment- who knows where it will lead?’


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Happy Whisky Day Whisky fans!

Yesterday saw the first, of hopefully many, World Whisky Days. The event was started by Blair Bowman, a student at the University of Aberdeen, and celebrated with over 150 events in over 30 different countries, from Germany to Singapore. Bowman, who grew up in Edinburgh, hopes that the day will spark interest in the industry and boost tourism to Scotland.

The Global World Whisky Day Effect

Either way, pat-on-the-back for Bowman for creating an event, long over due which gives us all another great reason to enjoy a wee dram!

Find out more about the event: http://worldwhiskyday.com/

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Absolut London

The artist responsible for the Gorillaz has become the latest artist to put his brush to the Absolut bottle. In his signature style, Jamie Hewlett’s design shows stereotypical English characters over the last 200 years, from the 18th century English dandy to a 1960s punk and a 21st century WAG against a backdrop of a modern London skyline.


With the world’s attention on London in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics this is likely to be one of many London souvenirs which will be coming our way, even if not raving about the Games itself. Hewlett’s red, white, black and blue colour scheme adds to the patriotic feel of the bottle and will probably appeal to art collectors as well as vodka lovers.

Look out for the bottle on sale now in Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, for a very reasonable £20.99

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