CAMPAIGNS: Consumer PR - Scots persuaded back to whisky

Client: Glenfiddich
PR Team: Harrison Cowley
Campaign: Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Awards
Timescale: April to November 1998
Budget: Undisclosed

Client: Glenfiddich

PR Team: Harrison Cowley

Campaign: Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Awards

Timescale: April to November 1998

Budget: Undisclosed

Glenfiddich Special Reserve is the leading single malt Scotch whisky

globally, but in its homeland of Scotland, it lost its number one status

in the face of fierce competition.

Consumer and trade coverage of the brand had been sporadic and there

were no strong links in place with consumer media in Scotland. Existing

sponsorships focused on ’traditional’ Scotland, such as the Highland

Games, piping and fiddle championships.

In April 1998, Harrison Cowley was appointed to execute what turned out

to be an award-winning PR programme to support the brand in


Part of its brief was to develop a new sponsorship programme, which won

an IPR Sword of Excellence for consumer PR.


To gain credibility for the brand among predominantly male ABC1 Scots

aged 25-50. To reposition Glenfiddich as relevant to Scots and associate

it with Scottish excellence.

Strategy and Plan

To establish an appropriate sponsorship strategy, Harrison Cowley

carried out research into Scottish opinions on whisky and culture. This

included focus groups and interviews with journalists.

Results showed images such as tartan and bagpipes were rejected as ’for

tourists’. There was pride in Scottish achievement in sport, business,

music and innovation, and popular icons included Ewan McGregor, David

Coulthard, Irvine Welsh and Nick Nairn.

Harrison Cowley proposed sponsorship of the first multi-sector cultural

awards to be held in Scotland. The aim was to capture the spirit of the

moment in Scotland - an emerging self-confidence and pride in current


To establish a media profile for the event, Harrison Cowley recruited a

leading broadsheet newspaper, Scotland on Sunday, as a partner. The

paper was so keen on the concept that all coverage was free in return

for dual branding.

The awards were launched on the front cover of Spectrum, SoS’s culture

magazine, with a spread giving readers details on how to vote. In the

six weeks running up to the awards, Spectrum ran articles on those

shortlisted in each category.

Because of its exclusive deal with SoS, other media coverage was limited

before the awards. However, the music and trade press were targeted.

Direct mail was also used to target arts and cultural organisations and


Channel 5 news presenter, Kirsty Young, was recruited for the awards

ceremony, which took place in November. Winners included Ewan McGregor

and Kirsty Wark.

Measurement and Evaluation

Over 14 pages of coverage was generated in Spectrum. The awards were

covered by radio stations, including BBC Radio Scotland, and in many

national and regional newspapers including The Scotsman, Herald, and

Edinburgh Evening News.

Harrison Cowley carries out evaluation on mentions of voice, tone and

key messages on all its work for Glenfiddich. Early results show

mentions of the brand compared to competitors had doubled.


Thorough research enabled the introduction of a sponsorship that was

entirely right for the times and embodied the brand values Glenfiddich

wanted to be associated with.

SoS has given its support for three years with an option for five, and

BBC Scotland has expressed an interest in broadcasting the next

ceremony, so the sponsorship appears to have longevity.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in