31 May, 2012

Manuel Terron and Midori

Trading places

With its latest round of advertising, Drambuie has cemented its dramatic rebirth. “Over the past 15 months, it’s been a radical change, which has been very successful,” says Drambuie’s global marketing director Tim Dewey. “We needed to take the same radical step with our communication. Previously it was not hard-wired enough.”

The new global ad campaign under the banner “A Taste of the Extraordinary”, primed for 25 to 44-year-old professionals, will front a fully integrated marketing support package that will challenge consumers to re-evaluate the brand and change drinking habits. Unveiled pre-Christmas in the UK, Greece and Chile, the campaign will roll out nationally in the US this year.

“In terms of drinking habits, the brand is in transition,” says Dewey. “But research after a presence at key music festivals has shown that consumers are getting the message and are going out to buy a bottle. It’s not a battle you win in one day, but we are getting there.” 

The second raft of advertising will focus on ways to drink the liqueur. To this end the company has a three-tier strategy, which kicks off with the simple/long serve such as Drambuie & Ginger or Coke, or in Latin America Drambuie Lime & Soda. 

In the US, the company is concentrating on a range of Rusty cocktails which offers a spin on traditional mixed drinks – ergo the Rusty Margarita. “This is a matter of concentrating on traditional old-style cocktails but with a new spin, and it gives us a way of getting involved,” says Dewey. The third tier is primed for the high end of the on-trade – where mixologists are encouraged to produce bespoke cocktails using the brand – “these of course will be harder for consumers to make at home,” says Dewey.

This significant Drambuie sea-change has to be managed without offending “a host” of older and traditional Drambuie users. “All we’re saying is that it’s the same Drambuie – and it doesn’t matter how you drink it,” says Dewey. 

Additionally, the company has fielded a serious line extension, Drambuie 15 Year Old – again emphasising its scotch whisky roots – while offering the more traditional Drambuie user a step up the quality ladder. The 15 Year Old joins the The Royal Legacy of 1745 – a single malt whisky version of Drambuie which was launched in 2009 to mark the centenary of the first commercial bottling of the liqueur, which took place in Edinburgh in 1909. 

So it’s all go in the Drambuie camp, and the priorities in terms of investment for the coming year will be Chile and Brazil; Chile because the liqueur sector is “very open” and Brazil because it is “a powerhouse for scotch”. 

The Drambuie story underlines the scope for liqueurs in today’s drinking world, as indeed does the success story of Baileys, the all-pioneering Irish cream liqueur. But even this cream icon – which sells in excess of 7 million cases a year – has been forced to broaden its options, and since 2008 has introduced Hint of Mint Chocolate, Hint of Coffee, Hazelnut and most recently in the UK Biscotti flavour. In the US, a pre-mix cocktail has made its debut, the Baileys Mudslide.

Without a doubt, the liqueurs category is hugely fragmented, more so than any other in the alcoholic beverage industry – but that’s not a bad thing as there are opportunities around the world to be seized. It’s definitely not a category to overlook, but as Bols’ CEO Huub van Doorne says: “It’s a very busy category – and one that’s underestimated because it is so fragmented.”

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