Campaign: Whitley Neill Gin makes an upmarket splash - Consumer

Campaign: Whitley Neill Gin Client: Whitley Neill PR team: Westbury Communications Timescale: September-December 2005 Budget: £5,000

Whitley Neill is a premium London dry gin that was launched in the UK last September. It was created by entrepreneur Johnny Neill, who quit a job in the City to launch the brand. The gin's differentiation comes from its unique African ingredients - the cape gooseberry and the fruit of the Baobab tree.

Neill briefed drinks PR specialist Westbury Communications to promote the gin to upmarket retailers and wealthy consumers.


To generate interest from leading London restaurants, bars and select retail outlets in stocking Whitley Neill Gin. To make spirit-savvy consumers aware of the drink's launch.


To compete in the crowded spirits market, Westbury built a brand character for Whitley Neill that highlighted its unique flavours. To reflect the gin's African inspiration, the PR team took a 'colonial' approach and created a series of themed cocktails, such as White Mischief - a lemon rind variation of the classic G&T - and Bush Baby, which contains cassis.

The African theme was pushed further to drinks journalists, who received a Whitley Coolbox, containing a bottle of gin, cocktail glass, mixers and cape gooseberries. At launch stage, the PR team also focused on Neill's one-man-band approach, flagging up his small-batch production process and use of antique copper pots.

Trade titles were targeted to build interest for the official launch of the drink at private members' club Adam Street. To target the bar trade, the brand sponsored a series of informal industry events at Adam Street throughout October, while retailers were contacted by Westbury directly.

Once the gin was on the shelves, the launch story was promoted to national and select consumer media, in time for the run-up to Christmas.


The launch attracted ten articles in trade magazines, including Harpers, Class, The Drinks Business and Off Licence News. Within two months of its launch, the gin gained eight pieces of national coverage, including three mentions in The Guardian, plus reviews in The Sunday Times Style, Financial Times, Esquire and Time Out.

The Adam Street launch party was attended by more than 100 journalists and trade contacts.


Between October and January, the gin sold 2,000 bottles. To date it has been picked up by 43 sellers, including London drinks merchant Philglas & Swiggot. Zuma, Milk & Honey, The Player and Crazy Bear are among the London bars that now stock the brand.

The Guardian drinks writer Victoria Moore attended the launch event and wrote about the gin for a winter food and drinks article. 'It was a well organised party and Westbury had some stylish and tasty cocktails. They made the most of the different ways to complement the gin's botanicals,' she says.

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