CAMPAIGNS: Judge and Jury - Absinthe enters the UK drinks market on an alcoholic high

An infamous history helped to guarantee the successful reintroduction of absinthe on to the UK market, says Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, managing director of Communications Plus.

An infamous history helped to guarantee the successful

reintroduction of absinthe on to the UK market, says Wilfred

Emmanuel-Jones, managing director of Communications Plus.



Absinthe. Surely the marketer’s and PR’s dream? A drink banned from

Europe and the US for its feared hallucinatory effects; a drink with a

history peppered with names and events marked in recent history (how

many products can boast as part of its heritage a hand in inspiring Van

Gogh to cut off his ear?); a drink that, thanks to a legal loophole was

imported into the UK just in time for the Christmas drinking season and

in good time to ensure awareness and distribution for the millennium; a

drink with an alcohol level and track record that could not fail to

attract the attention of the anti-alcohol lobby? Could the

reintroduction of absinthe fail to cause a stir?



For me, the effectiveness of a campaign can be measured in how the

results affect or influence me personally. As a PR professional

specialising in food and drink PR, I could not fail to be aware of the

growing ground swell of interest in this apparently lethal, emerald

green liquid. I knew the campaign had hit home when at a leisurely lunch

at a local bar I was tempted to try this fiery liquor. Not only does

absinthe come with a fabulous history, its preparation certainly adds to

the mystique.



A simple shot in a glass-not on your life. A single measure is poured

into a cocktail glass. A teaspoon full of sugar laid across the rim and

set alight and then the molten sugar poured seductively into the green

liquid leaving a residual flame flickering around the rim. A splash of

water to extinguish the flame and the glass was offered to me. One sip

was enough to make my decision.



In terms of raised awareness of absinthe, its mystique, its history and,

of course, its availability, this campaign is without doubt a

success.



The media coverage was the kind you’d die for - prime time TV and long

features in the nationals.



But true effectiveness, I believe, is in getting people to try absinthe

and from that moment convert the drinker to a loyal and regular

user.



Now there’s the rub. Call me old fashioned, but for me once was

enough.



But for those at the coal face of all that is stylish, cool and now,

absinthe may well be a dream come true and as a result drink copious

quantities on a regular basis.



Whatever, I doubt that many people will enter the year 2000 without

having heard of, seen or tasted absinthe. Successful or what?



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