Brand Repositioning: Remy touts history to broaden renown of Macallan whisky

It was not a bad place to be; years of distilling had made Remy Amerique's Macallan brand a favorite top-line Scotch whisky among enthusiasts.

It was not a bad place to be; years of distilling had made Remy Amerique's Macallan brand a favorite top-line Scotch whisky among enthusiasts.

But there came an internal acknowledgement that the brand was capable of more. It was thus decided that the company would launch a repositioning effort to coincide with the introduction of the Macallan Fine & Rare collection, an assortment of vintages from 1936 to 1973 selling for up to $30,000 a bottle.

M. Booth & Associates came to the forefront of the competitive pitch. "We clearly saw that the challenge was to break away from spirits-trade coverage and get people to buy into the history of the brand," says Josh Rosenberg, VP, consumer and lifestyle, at M. Booth. Aiming high, the team positioned the Macallan as the "World's Most Precious Whisky," but set out to make it a lifestyle.

Strategy

Remy Amerique believed that while certain mentions were guaranteed because of the product's nature, the challenge lay in putting the Macallan name on the tongues of non-whisky connoisseurs ages 35 and older.

When the team looked at the whisky it saw a story, a reflection of the decades spent aging in wooden casks. M. Booth realized that by telling the media about the process behind each bottle, the agency could not only get publicity for the collection, but for the core 12- to 30-year-old vintages, as well.

If the team talked about the Fine & Rare's history in a way that created lifestyle stories, it would allow it to break away from traditional wine and spirits publications and build the brand from the top down in terms of focus on the Fine & Rare products and replicas.

Tactics

M. Booth readily tackled the launch of the new collection while also guiding the parallel ad campaign. A media launch presented the whisky and its heritage as if it were a piece of fine art in a museum, in a way that spoke to the lifestyle story and presented the brand as an icon. "Introducing the process through this kind of education and information allowed us to position Macallan as a luxury product, one with a high aesthetic and with as sophisticated a production process as the best wine," says Joan Brower, senior VP and co-director, consumer and lifestyle, at M. Booth.

The firm also helped forge a partnership between Remy Amerique and the Borgata Hotel, Casino, and Spa, another client. The Borgata was the first establishment to sell Fine & Rare whisky by the glass, and the initial delivery staged multiple security guards marching through the casino to deliver the bottles. M. Booth also identified a "whisky sommelier" at the Borgata restaurant housing the collection to help guide patrons through the nuances of Scotch selection.

Results

To date, the campaign has generated about 634 million media impressions, at only $.70 CPM. Macallan year-to-date sales are up 15% in a category that only saw a 7% rise last year. Broadcast coverage even generated interest from a private collector, who is currently in talks to buy the $170,000 collection.

Also holding strong is the relationship between Remy Amerique and the Borgata, which continues to enjoy the elegance associated with serving Fine & Rare. Meanwhile, M. Booth has been able to leverage the publicity created by the inaugural events to bring the story back to the media to demonstrate Macallan's luxury status.


Future

Still glowing with success, Remy Amerique has released three new Macallan products, and more are on the way, including what Mark A. Izatt, Remy Amerique brand manager of single-malt whisky, mysteriously calls "a big departure."

As for M. Booth, the agency will continue to help single out the brand as one of the finest products available, as well as spread the message of the new Fine Oak range.

"We're now holding all of our other PR agencies to the same standards of execution and delivery," raves Izatt.

PR team: M. Booth & Associates with Remy Amerique (both New York City)

Campaign: The Macallan: The World's Most Precious Whisky


Time frame: October 2003 to June 2004

Budget: $450,000

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