Whisky - Advertising for the Right Target Group

What We Can Learn from this as Malt Whisky Connoisseurs

The situation of the Whisky industry is divided. On the one hand, big Blended Whisky brands like Johnnie Walker or Ballantine's are fighting for market share, but they are losing. The image of the tartan and the bagpipe is far too strong for Whisky.

Other fashionable spirits developed quite differently. Bacardi feeling with exotic girls, party atmosphere and a bit of 'illegal drug character', on the other hand, achieved brisk growth. For Whisky, this is reminiscent of dream figures from the times of the economic miracle.

For a long time, Glenfiddich successfully swam against this trend on the other side of the spectrum with its advertising campaign. Here, the needs of the hurried, modern man who consciously dedicates his leisure time to the comfort of Whisky enjoyment were specifically addressed. An advertisement in which the Malt Whisky connoisseur can definitely find himself.

Does the Whisky industry have to realign itself in order to survive? Slow, conscious Whisky enjoyment or exotic party feeling? The more recent, international Johnnie Walker campaigns dispensed entirely with Scotland, haggis and rugged natural beauty. They preferred to show modern, professionally active men. So, Whisky for the real men of the world? Certainly, a good, promising differentiator from the competition. For us as Malt Whisky connoisseurs, however, this advertising does not necessarily appeal. - After all, we are looking for something different in our Malt than these people. This commercial was shown in Germany for only a few days.

The best example of how to combine relaxation and party feeling is Jack Daniel's. The Jack Daniel's TV commercial shows slowness, whereas the fun generation drinks 'Jacky' with Coke at their parties. The balancing act is extremely wide, but it succeeds. Respect!

Jim Beam was somewhat less differentiated. The great guy in the pub who poured out his Whiskey with the words: 'That's not Jim Beam' was somewhere between the Johnnie Walker and Bacardi people. But the commercial lived more on the catchy slogan than on the seedy pub with the down-and-out guys. However, sales are going well. Jim Beam, too, now sells more cases of Jim Beam with Coke than pure bottles. For us Malt connoisseurs, the end of the line was reached after the Glenfiddich ad. From an advertising point of view, with a few exceptions, nothing more happened. Sales in the Malt Whisky segment were far too low to make fancy advertising worthwhile. What counted here was quality and word-of-mouth propaganda. But for some time now, the sale of Malt Whisky has been on the upswing. It's more about quality and discovering unknown, new types than loyalty to a single brand. Who's going to say, 'I prefer Glenmorangie!' You are much more likely to hear the sentence: 'I love Malt Whisky. My favourite brands are: ...' What is important about this last sentence is the plural in 'favourite brands'. So, it is less about the individual brand and more about the whole market segment.


However, we would also like to cite a striking example in the Malt Whisky market segment - Bowmore. Over the years, this distillery has always shown a rather different style than its somewhat classic-looking competitors. This made them stand out. Whether this was always positive or not is open to question. Nevertheless, everyone knows the name. Printed metal boxes with atmospheric scenes and ceramic bottles with Japanese motifs gave the brand something mysterious. This was elegantly supported by the advertising campaign with mermaids. A clever move in terms of advertising. 'Sex sells' still holds true today. But hidden in the tradition of Bowmore, situated on the waters of Loch Indaal, it's not even too obvious or disreputable. Kudos to Bowmore.

Still, a decline in general Whisky sales is also hurting us Malt connoisseurs. If less Whisky is produced overall and more Malt Whisky is sold at the same time, it is no longer exclusively very good Malt Whisky casks that are bottled. Less good casks have to be used.

Therefore, our tip is to often reach for a bottle with a higher age (i.e., Glenfiddich 18 years, Glenlivet 18 years, and so on). It's not necessarily the age that counts. It's simply the better selection of high-quality casks for the older bottlings.