Campaigns: Bell’s rings in the new image - Product Launch

Since a voluntary TV advertising abstention by all spirits manufacturers ended in 1995 there has been a busy advertising market but declining overall whisky sales.

Since a voluntary TV advertising abstention by all spirits


ended in 1995 there has been a busy advertising market but declining

overall whisky sales.

The pounds 4 million campaign for Bell’s eight-year-old Scotch whisky

scheduled for September aimed to give the brand a more contemporary, urban


It was also designed to launch redesigned packaging for October,

highlighting the brand’s eight-year maturation.


To make the advertising campaign stand out, generate media interest for

the redesign, position Bell’s as innovative and reflect its position as

the UK’s number one Scotch and lead the market away from the price

discounting promotional route.


The TV commercial had little news value in itself so Mulcaster Glasgow

needed to create a special occasion for the launch. The agency came up

with the idea of launching it live at Scottish Premier League Champions

Rangers’ first home game of the season at Ibrox stadium on its Jumbotron

screens. There would be a crowd of 50,000 and Sky was broadcasting the

game live. This concept tied in with Bell’s four-year contract as sponsor

of the Scottish Premier League.

Around 20 news, consumer and trade journalists were invited to the game.

They attended a private screening of the ad in the directors’ box and a

presentation by Jonathan Turner, Bell’s consumer marketing manager.

Following the game press packs were issued and journalists received a

bottle signed by Rangers’ stars Paul Gascoigne and Ally McCoist. Lord

Macfarlane, honorary president of United Distillers, also spoke to

journalists and presented Rangers with the Premiership flag.

There was also a competition in Rangers’ News magazine to spot how many

times the figure eight appeared in the commercial.


There were around 50 cuttings with coverage across the general Scottish

press, trade and consumer and some regional press. The agency was not able

to use the occasion for radio and TV interviews. While there does not

appear to have been any direct UK national press coverage of the launch,

journalists have subsequently used material in features. The Sky broadcast

showed the in-ground branding.


Bell’s Scottish League sponsorship and the launch at Ibrox made natural

partners, especially as Scotland remains a leading market and football

fitted in with the flavour of the ad. However, a month after the launch it

was announced that Bell’s will not be sponsoring the Scottish League when

its contract expires at the end of this season, taking some of the shine

off the launch concept.

The majority of journalists used the press pack material directly in their

copy and it is uncertain how much value was added by inviting them to the

Ibrox launch.

Tim Palmer, drinks editor of the Grocer, said that while the

presentation to journalists was not particularly newsworthy, it provided

background information and an opportunity to meet the Bell’s team.

CLIENT: Bell’s eight-year-old Scotch Whisky (United Distillers UK)

PR TEAM: Mulcaster PR and Marketing (Glasgow)

CAMPAIGN: Advertising and packaging launch

TIMESCALE: 4 July - 4 August

BUDGET: pounds 20,000

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