Why Glenmorangie Wants to Keep Taking Its Brand to Unexpected Places

The single malt is diving deeper down the creative rabbit hole to make whisky more accessible

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British artist and photographer Miles Aldridge is best known for his saturated, film noir-esque mise-en-scène, described as “everyday reality on acid.” For the past three years, he’s also been working with whisky maker Glenmorangie to bring its global “It’s Kind of Delicious and Wonderful” campaign to life.

Now he’s partnered with the LVMH-owned brand and longtime agency DDB Paris once more that will push the brand further down the technicolor rabbit hole he helped create.

The updated creative builds on the work Glenmorangie has been doing to make its flagship single malt more accessible to the masses, ditching somber and smoky whisky advertising tropes in favor of a bright palette designed to encourage more people to try a dram.

Aldridge has added to his successful 2020 campaign, which showcases moments of delight (like having a bubble bath or taking a train journey) through a kaleidoscopic lens of magical realism, to showcase how “the simple joy of whisky” can elevate these experiences. New scenes explore a hot-air ballon ride and a visit to a fortune teller.

Like their predecessors, the new scenes are rooted in the brand’s bold orange hue and are saturated with color.

For Glenmorangie’s global marketing director Caspar MacRae this isn’t just a marketing campaign; it’s a brand manifesto born out of consumer research and extensive conversations with Dr. Bill Lumsden, the distiller behind Glenmoragnie’s single malts, whose job is to make things that are “simply delicious.”

DDB Paris, Glenmorangie

“This work is an expression of that strategy, with the aim of making whisky desirable and relevant to people who might not have considered single malt before,” explained MacRae.

And it’s working. Since Glenmorangie launched the original “It’s Kind of Delicious and Wonderful” push in 2019, the brand has seen a 20% growth in volumes consumed and a 40% growth to its sales. This is ahead of the whisky market’s overall annual growth rate of 6% a year.

The push will run across TV, cinema, out-of-home, retail and more worldwide in markets from America to India, the U.K and Germany to China and beyond.

Putting stereotypes on ice

Scotch advertising is typically tied in legacy and usually squared toward men. However with the market for whisky set to hit $86.1 billion by 2027, Glenmorangie joins a chorus of whisky marketers who are changing their tune to appeal to a younger, wider demographic.

“When we started off, the ambition was to do something that didn’t feel like traditional whisky advertising,” said DDB executive creative director Alexander Kalchev. “The results prove we succeeded, but we’d barely scratched the surface with the creative execution.”

He said the brief this time around was to dive deeper into the story and recruit more people who had been “historically intimidated” by the whisky world, going bigger and better with the scenarios and storytelling.

A rendered graphic of a young women and a young man playing pinball. An illustrated bottle of Glenmorangie is at the front of the image with the text, "It's kind of delicious and wonderful."
Since Glenmorangie launched the original “It’s Kind of Delicious and Wonderful” push in 2019, the brand has seen a 20% growth in volumes consumedDDB Paris, Glenmorangie

Legacy brands including rival Johnnie Walker have similarly been shaking up their creative approach and media planning, tapping into new ideas and platforms to make sure they’re top of mind for millennials and Gen Z consumers. Chivas, for instance, has been leaning on the power of K-Pop and Instagram to market to young men and women in Asia including China, Korea and Singapore.

“One of the things we wanted to do with this campaign was present whisky as something that’s inviting to everyone,” said MacRae.

The campaign drops amid a global movement dubbed “Our Whisky,” which is calling upon whisky makers to improve the representation of women in their marketing communications following a study that found the world’s top whisky brands’ Instagram accounts found posts featuring men outnumber women by 228%.

Though some brands have addressed this disparity through rebrands and campaigns directed at women (Jane Walker, anyone?) MacRae said Glenmorangie has been “implicit, rather than explicit” in promoting its product across all sexes.

“Some of our competitors have taken the more explicit terms of saying that this is for demographics that perhaps were underrepresented before. We didn’t feel it was necessary to make that an overt campaign,” he noted. “But we did want to make it implicit in all our advertising and all our touch points that this is a brand which is inviting to all and makes a clear brand promise to people.”

Global particulars

Ensuring the campaign was truly global has been a pursuit and a challenge for Glenmorangie and DDB. However, MacRae said the “visual language” the pair created with Aldridge has helped it create a “brand world” that can translate across continents.

“The challenge when you’re doing a global campaign is to do something that feels sufficiently universal, but not generic,” chimed in Kalchev, explaining that each scene in the new campaign has been crafted based on the idea it could be a “universal” experience. For example, going on a hot air balloon or visiting a tarot reader isn’t limited by geography.

A surreal illustration shows a man in a barber chair with a barber standing next to them in front of a counter with a sink and hair tools and a mirror. The men's backs are to the viewer. In the mirror are the two men in front of a wall of various liquors—their backs are to the viewer. An illustrated bottle of Glenmorangie is at the front of the image with text reading, "It's kind of delicious and wonderful."
Like their predecessors, the new scenes are rooted in the brand’s bold orange hue and are saturated with colorDDB Paris, Glenmorangie

For MacRae this has particularly come in handy in “dark markets” like India where explicit alcohol advertising is banned. Point-of-sale and retail promotions were leaned on heavily, even gaining the brand the Platinum Award for best in show at the recent South Asia SABRE Awards.

Kalchev agreed the creative offered a lot of room, especially for dark markets, to build experiences for customers. “That’s because the world is so rich, so inviting, and so beautiful,” he said.

Success for MacRae will see the sales momentum continue, but he’d also like to see brand equity and long-term perceptions boosted, too.

Glenmorangie is positioning itself as an accessible, but luxury brand. As such, the marketer would like this campaign to support its price premium (where a 10-year-old malt typically clocks in around $40).

“It’s certainly not the cheapest whisky in the world to make, so we want to present ourselves as an aspirational luxury treat that’s inviting for all,” he finished.