Pure Gould: Drinks Marketing

on 03 January, 2014

There’s been a shift in the way drinks are marketed. Patience Gould looks at the new worthy contenders

Over the past five years and against the backdrop of the global economic downturn, it’s been interesting to note the subtle and not so subtle changes that have been made on the brand marketing front. In terms of brand values, authenticity and heritage have always played major roles, but in recent times a noble worthiness is beginning to make its presence felt at the expense of the lifestyle campaigns of yore.

Indeed, Glenfiddich’s latest sponsorship of the UK team in the Walking With the Wounded South Pole Allied Challenge is a classic example. UK distributor First Drinks has secured a cask of 29-year-old Glenfiddich and has released a limited edition named Spirit of a Nation. Only 250 bottles are available, 200 are destined for high-end, prestige and specialist accounts at a mouth-drying £1,000 a pop, but all proceeds go to the UK-based charity which cares for wounded service personnel after they have left the Armed Forces. The sponsored team gets two, but is charged with bringing one back for auction and, of course, the proceeds will go to Walking With the Wounded. 

All heart-warming stuff and the fact that the patron of Walking With the Wounded’s expedition is Prince Harry and that he is also a member of Team Glenfiddich is just the icing – or should I say ice on – the cake. This is a perfect sponsorship for this most-awarded and singular malt whisky. 

The big question is how this rubs off on consumers. Will they know about this laudable sponsorship and if so will it warm the cockles of their hearts when they next have a large dram – and will they be more inclined to buy Glenfiddich in the future? Hopefully, for owners William Grant at least, the answer has to be a resounding “yes”, unless you have a heart of stone.  

Chivas Bros was one of the first to recognise the shift in public sentiment away from lifestyle aspiration to more meaningful matters with the launch of Chivas Regal’s Live With Chivalry campaign. That was back in 2008 and marked the end of the Chivas Life advertising which, as the brand call suggests, was all to do with fun and lifestyle. Now things have moved on yet again with the latest Barman TV ad, starring celebrated actor Charles Dance. It takes consumers through the iconic eras of the cocktail and in so doing underlines the timeless nature of Chivas. 

As global brand director Richard Black says: “We believe this latest instalment gives a deeper meaning to what it takes to Live With Chivalry, demonstrating that modern gentlemen show their generosity of spirit.” At the same time the producer has launched an app, Made in Your Honour, to complement the advertising. The app lets users show their own generosity of spirit by honouring a friend with a barman’s ultimate tribute – a Chivas drink created in their name. The personalised video featuring the bespoke drink and recipe based on their friend’s characteristics will be sharable through Facebook and Twitter. Engaging.

Still in the Chivas stable there has also been a subtle repositioning of Ballantine’s whisky, with a reworking of its Leave an Impression campaign. It’s now Stay True, Leave an Impression and it invites consumers to express themselves in a “genuine and authentic way, applauding conviction and self-belief”. 

The campaign will feature a number of authentic Stay True protagonists, who have each been chosen to front the campaign because they epitomise the message of being genuine, authentic and ultimately “of staying true to yourself”.  The selected individuals are depicted in situations designed “to reflect their passion and commitment to staying true, demonstrating that whatever you do, it’s about doing it with conviction, doing it because you believe in it”. 

This is all thought-provoking and serious stuff.  It is also light years away from the gilded lifestyle and aspirational ad campaigns which were once so commonplace. Even white spirits – the doyennes of the jet-set lifestyle advertising genre – are now beginning to paint on a more serious canvas. 

Grey Goose’s advertising stars its French distiller and originator François Thibault and stresses the brand’s French heritage under the banner Fly Beyond, while Bacardi’s latest is designed to persuade consumers to pursue their passions. It comes under the banner Bacardi – Untameable Since 1862 and shows the history of the family from its origins in Cuba, its subsequent exile, Prohibition, war and revolution, none of which daunted its spirit because, as we all know, True Passion Can’t be Tamed. That must be the mootest point of the decade so far.


Your window into the world of a drinks journalist - from cocktails competitions to financial results, we've got a view and we're not afraid to share it.


Click the RSS icon to grab our feed and follow the DIgestif blog via your news reader.

Digital Edition

Drinks International digital edition is available ahead of the printed magazine. Don’t miss out, make sure you subscribe today to access the digital edition and all archived editions of Drinks International as part of your subscription.