Client: Plymouth Gin
Campaign: Reviving the Plymouth Gin brand
PR Team: Communications Plus
Timescale: May 1997 - ongoing
Plymouth Gin has been distilled for over 200 years at the same site in
Plymouth, and is one of only a few gins which survive in its original
form from the 18th century.
A year ago, the brand was losing some pounds 25,000 a month and had lost
its distribution agreement. The brand was bought by a private consortium
and a new managing director, Charles Rolls, was hired to turn the brand
Food and drinks specialist Communications Plus, was hired to provide PR
To recreate awareness of the Plymouth Gin brand and position it as the
premium gin on the market.
As there was only a small budget, an advertising campaign was ruled out,
and the focus was on public relations and marketing.
The packaging of the gin was completely overhauled to recapture the
heritage elements of the brand. Importantly, the strength was lifted to
the original 41.2 per cent alcohol volume - thought to be the optimum
for holding the flavours in balance.
At the time, distribution of Plymouth Gin was minimal, so the campaign
had to begin with a very hands-on approach - there was no point in
raising public awareness before the product could be bought over the
counter to gradually re-build confidence in the brand.
Communications Plus decided to bring the brand back to its West Country,
naval roots and began working with yacht clubs and targeting consumers
interested in sailing with tastings, to remind them how a great gin
Great Western Trains was also brought in as stockists, and a series of
stories were sold in to the local media, including interviews with
Drinks writers and broadcasters were targeted with comprehensive fact
sheets, reminding them of the heritage of the brand and its place in the
premium drinks market. Interesting facts, such as the fact that the 1896
Savoy Cocktail Book recommended Plymouth Gin as an ingredient in 27
cocktails, including the original dry Martinis, were included.
A real turning point for the gin was when Jilly Goolden, of BBC 2’s Food
and Drink programme selected Plymouth Gin as the best tasting gin out of
around 30 brands, in a blind tasting.
Once the fortunes of Plymouth Gin had begun to change, Communications
Plus focused on the business story, selling it in to the Financial Times
and other quality newspapers.
The sales speak for themselves - they are up 350 per cent on the same
period last year. Stockists of the gin now include Thresher, Tesco and
Asda. Plymouth Gin has recently gone into profit. Following the
broadcast of Food and Drink, sales rose some 500 per cent, and the media
relations campaign was a success, with in-depth articles appearing in
the Independent on Sunday, ITV’s This Morning, the Express and the
Plymouth Gin is also having considerable impact on the east coast of the
US, where it was unavailable for some 20 years.
Plymouth Gin has a distinguished history, something to be envied by
other brands. This campaign’s strength was to build on this history of
the brand, and focus on the quality of the product. It was also very
well targeted - capturing interest locally not only helped the brand,
but provided a good platform from which to launch a nationwide
Charles Rolls has bought into the company, and there are plans to expand
further into the US, and increase distribution of Plymouth Gin to
100,000 cases annually.