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