Whisky has to attract new customers somehow, and with the release of Johnnie Walker’s new ad campaign we are seeing some of the best whisky ads ever. Here is a selection of some of the best (and one of the worst) from (mostly) this year!
Just as many Scotch distilleries started out life as illicit stills, this ad begins with an act of defiance. It then gathers speed with a distinctive Scottish accent narrating the whole thing. William Grant, founder of Glenfiddich is set up as a lone ranger, but of course with the support of his family, who are equally as defiant, behind him all the time. I like this ad as it tells a story, capturing the pioneering spirit of Grant himself, and the important of family to the success of Glenfiddich.
The husky and subtle tones of Jude Law as he opens this ad are given weighting by the crash bang that follows as the song begins. What follows is a montage of joy and the things that joy can help you achieve. This is a continuation of the “Keep Walking” campaign that seeks to highlight progress and how you, alongside Johnnie Walker, can progress in life. This is smart advert from Johnnie Walker as it does not have the product front and centre, showing that this montage can be as much your life as it is the actors’.
This ad riffs on the same things as the Glenfiddich ad, with a focus on family and support. At the end Dewar’s is the gift that we would all give to that person who has done so much for us. The moments that are highlighted by the narrator, things like driving to graduation and teaching you to ride a bike, are family orientated and in the end, become associated with Dewar’s itself. This is not only a Whisky to give as a gift, but it is a Whisky that embodies all it means to be family.
Similar to the Johnnie Walker ad, this commercial seeks to express that Grant’s plays an important background role in the narrative of your life. It is what brings you and your friends together. Grant’s have targeted a very specific audience with this ad, the young, cool male who just wants to have a good time and always has his pals back. The end is summed up with a bottle of Grant’s and the tagline “Stand Together”. The Whisky becomes the feature that connects us all and is the true sign of a friendship well spent.
This isn’t so much an adas a short feature piece, but it was produced by Ballantine’s and explores many of the characteristics that they want to promote. This fil captures the art, creativity and up-to-datedness that Ballantine’s strives to communicate to its audience. They choose a street artist in an up-and-coming city to create a piece of art that is brought to life by technology. I think this is my favourite of all the ads here as it relays a message that brings Whisky into the 21st century and targets a new audience. And the end result is pretty incredible.
This is pretty similar to the Glenfiddich ad in that the narrator begins by introducing us to Matthew Gloag and his innovative act of defiance. The Scottish voice over mocks him with the laughing characters in shot and then switches to mock the characters themselves for their ignorance. This is a simple way to show the inventive beginnings of the Famous grouse brand and also to express the long history of tradition and creativity in the face of opposition that has gone before it.
Again, this isn’t so much an ad as an initative, but the Jameson First Shots series, this year headlined by Adrian Brody, is a great way to show the brand’s dedication to creativity and art. By giving unknown movie makers the chance to get their work out there, Jameson is pronouncing their ethos of lending a helping hand to those who need it. Their brand becomes that bit more hipster and anti-corporate as they reject the notion that big names mean quality. And with big names such as Brody involved, it makes Jameson look like they have great power and are only going to use it for good.
Technically this isn’t just for 2015 but since it caused quite a stir in the Whisky world and is still pretty recent, it deserves a mention. Regardless of the actual quality of Haig Club, this ad sets it up to be one of the most sophisticated and refined drams of the century. With posh looking men and women enjoying themselves in velvet suits and joined by Golden Balls himself no less, Haig Club becomes exclusive and interesting to us plebs without it. What I think takes away from this is the actual design of the bottle itself. To me, it looks like a giant perfume bottle being passed awkwardly around because Beckham can’t quite get a good grip on it.
Ok, again, this isn’t from 2015, but I am such a sucker for anything with a hint of emotion that I had to include it. This ad, sent out in South Africa, definitely brought a tear to my eye. In the end I didn’t care that it was clearly milking my emotional reactions to sell a product or that this man met his son randomly (but conveniently) in a bar to tell him he read his book, I was just trying to dry my eyes before anyone would notice. But I still think it’s a good ad. It again captures the idea of family and that Bell’s brings together family members as a gift that can be shared and enjoyed. Bell’s becomes the real reward for all his toil and effort in the end.
And now for something a bit different
This isn’t one of the best Whisky ads from 2015, but one of the worst. It had to be included simply for the fact that it is so bad. Once you’ve watched they others this does not begin to compare. Michael Owen, dear love him, can’t act worth a damn, even when it’s just his disembodied voice floating over inspiring black and white images. But I don’t think the scripting really did him many favours anyway. It sounds like something a GCSE English student would write as part of their coursework. And if they did, it would probably get a D anyway. The shushing at the end just looks awkward, more awkward than Beckham holding the perfume bottle. If you’re ever going to make an ad, then please refer to this one as everything not to do.