'We had over 16,000 people sign up around the world' - Behind the Campaign with Glengoyne 'whisky ballot'

Tom Hills, strategy and story director at Wire, gives the lowdown on the agency's campaign for Glengoyne Highland Single Malt.

What was the campaign, in a nutshell?

Glengoyne Highland Single Malt was releasing its oldest-ever expression: a very rare 50 Year Old, priced at £22,500. Whiskies of this age tend to only get talked about as collectors' items and, even then, mainly within whisky circles. We were challenged to make its release a story that would capture the imagination of more than just those with deep pockets or an encyclopaedic knowledge of whisky. And so, a very special ballot was born – giving one group the chance to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime liquid in 2021.

How did the idea come into being?

As Scotland’s slowest distilled malt, Glengoyne has always celebrated its unhurried approach to making whisky – the right way is the long way when it comes to a good dram. Its values are the perfect antidote to our hectic lifestyles today; rarely do we take the time to slow down and appreciate moments with friends and loved ones. Now, in a pandemic, even those fleeting moments have been taken away.

Our ballot, to win a bottle, set out to change that. A whisky this rare and exceptional commands time and appreciation. It’s a bottle to capture the imagination of even the occasional whisky drinker (at more than £800 a dram), and one that had the potential to be a vehicle for bringing people together. Entry to the ballot required five or more people to sign up, with Glengoyne creating an unhurried moment for the winners to enjoy the whisky together in 2021, once restrictions allow.

What ideas were rejected?

We explored several routes at the outset, including a premium ‘unboxing’ as well as packaging collaborations. We even looked at famous faces turning 50 to get involved. The difficultly with many of these was that any distillery could do them. Creating activity focused on being unhurried and enjoying a special moment with others, on the other hand, felt like something Glengoyne could truly own.

Briefly describe the campaign planning and process

Planning and delivery of the campaign fell right in the middle of the pandemic so, to ensure the story would land well against the ever-changing landscape, we planned out different scenarios and had assets such as the ballot website (created by the amazing guys at Neu Studio) signed off well ahead of time.

Whisky stories very rarely cut through into the consumer/lifestyle media at the best of times, let alone at a time when PR stories were becoming increasingly hard to land. An unhurried approach to sell-in was key to the story gaining momentum at launch, offering titles that we knew would help take the story out of the whisky space early access to exclusive features.

What were the biggest challenges, and how did you overcome them?

While we all had to navigate the murky WFH waters, it’s hard to look past the pandemic as our biggest challenge. When it comes to recognition, Glengoyne isn’t an Apple or Google – so to cut through we had to work really hard to craft a story with not just a captivating headline, but also the perfect narrative to drive talkability at that time.

How did you measure the results, and what were they?

We had over 16,000 people sign up from around the world – all of whom are now connected to the brand in ways that they weren’t before. At the same time, coverage ran from London to Sydney, with thousands taking to social to share their ballots, increasing brand awareness immensely.

What's the biggest lesson you took away from the campaign?

A better understanding of what a brand stands for, or represents, will often lead to stronger (not to mention more cost-effective) ideas. We definitely could have spent a lot more on a celeb, or by creating a film; but at the end of the day, the Glengoyne distillery, and everything it stood for, gave us all we needed to launch this whisky in style.


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