Nowadays we are used to seeing epic lifestyle-led stories in spirits and beer advertising. Think the £10million spent on the ‘iconic’ Guinness ad of 2007 or the celebrity-focused party scenes of a any nearly any vodka advert. But it was not always like this, oh no, so GreatDrams looked into some classic, and random old school whisky advertising to show you what used to be.
As you will see from the galleries both above and below, the focus here was on print or outdoor advertising as these were more prevalent in the early years of marketing and communications.
If you were expecting the ads to have a completely unrecognisable tone when compared to our whisly ads of today, you’ll have been mistaken.
The old school whisky advertising may have been painted on walls, been black and white, been more about the key shot with the messages wrapping around it but the the themes are largely the same:
- Whisky is a premium liquid
- Whisky gives a perceived higher social appeal / cache
- Whisky is about success
- Whisky is a drink that forges bonds over a lifetime (see the Chivas example)
- Whisky is all about the terroir
Nowadays the only real differences are three addition of a couple of themes:
- Whisky being about time spent together
- Whisky being for both men and women
- Whisky being a sense of everyday celebration
Whilst the old school whisky advertising had an undertone of arrogance, of sexism and of assumed knowledge, there is no doubt that these adverts will remain classics and set the bedrock for all the category codes we recognise and expect today.
Still, I couldn’t see any creative director these days signing off the Johnnie Walker beach ad, or any vodka brand offering consumers the chance to win a Russian Bride, still, they probably resonated at the time.