Yes, we’re talking about mother’s ruin, aka gin. A brand loyalist and some time creature of habit (allegedly), my affections for Plymouth Original Strength are currently being sorely tested by an equally obscure brand of the juniper-flavoured alcohol – Hendrick’s.
We’ll get to the tasting notes in a minute, but first, the creative strategy bit. OK, gentle readers, start counting the number of brands you know that trade on their unpopularity.
We’re not talking about "exclusivity" or "aspiration", two of the most over-used and abused words in the marketing lexicon, but plain dislike by the majority.
Here is a sample of the copy from the neck-leaflet of a bottle of Hendrick’s: "A Most Unusual Gin"; "Despite the possibilities of surprise, most people shy away from what it is odd".
Hence the drink is: "Preferred by 1 out of 1,000 drinkers".
Some of this copy flashed me back to the mid-1980s. It is sometimes reminiscent of the legendary opening to one of the most successful direct marketing letters for American Express of that era: "It is not for everyone".
Or as Hendrick’s puts it: "Loved by a tiny handful of people all over the world."
But, although they’ve chosen a brave positioning, Hendricks isn’t stupid. OK, most mortals really don’t like their gin, but those that do, love it. So why not celebrate that fact? So the little leaflet also includes a testimonial from The Wall Street Journal, which voted Hendrick’s the "Best Gin In The World".
And the unique taste is explained by the fact that the ingredients are not crudely boiled, but bathed in vapours. OK!
Finally, Hendrick’s appeals to the mature yet experimental spirit in us: "Like two people in love, WHEN you meet is everything. You must encounter Hendrick’s at a time in your life when you are fully open to the deliciousness of new possibilities, no matter how unusual they may be."
Of course, the bottle and packaging are all of a piece with this considered quirkiness. One just has to wonder how many other brands could make such an appealing virtue out of being hard to like.
Simon S Kershaw is a creative consultant and a former creative director at Craik Jones.
This article was first published on brandrepublic.com