A Hendrick's Gin Blimp Will Fly the Glitterati to the Super Bowl. Or Not.

The stunt, which takes a swipe at celebs and private jets, promises an amenity-packed 'inefficient' adventure

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The last time Americans saw this giant flying cucumber—not a euphemism—it was traveling at a low altitude snail’s pace across 13 U.S. cities as the eccentric brand emissary for Hendrick’s Gin.

After resting for a few years, the 133-foot airship with a Victorian vibe is back in action, headed for Glendale, Ariz., on Feb. 12. But whether the U.K.-based dirigible makes it there for Super Bowl 57—delivering a group of deep-pocketed passengers in time for kickoff—is an open question.

With a top speed of 35 mph, which is “just slow enough not to blow off your steampunk hat,” per Adweek’s coverage of its maiden voyage, the liquor brand’s CucumbAir takes anywhere from 24 to 96 hours longer than standard jet travel. 

The blimp “sips fuel and gobbles time,” according to the brand, meaning flyers could arrive in Arizona “one to several days after the Big Game.”

We like to first look at conversations and cultural moments where we can inject the inefficient and complicated way we make our gin.

Michael Giardina, U.S. vp of marketing, William Grant & Sons

But oh the journey, which will include on-board reiki sessions, live performances of Sondheim musicals and/or Kafka novels, “botanical tooth powder,” red or black caviar and cocktails, among other amenities catering to the 1%.

The price tag for this genteel, slow-motion adventure—which is real, by the way—ranges from $750,000 to $1.2 million. Ridership is capped at seven people, so pampered guests will have to trim their sprawling entourages for capacity.

An inconvenient truth

The stunt, engineered by Momentum Worldwide, is meant to be an outsized attention-grabber for the quirky gin that’s sold in old-fashioned apothecary-style bottles. And it’s a physical manifestation of the self-described “unusual and inefficient” way that Hendrick’s distills its cucumber- and rose-infused product.

The sustainably minded CucumbAir also latches onto a current hot topic: celebrities and their ecologically decimating habit of flying by private jet to events like the Big Game.

“We couldn’t help but sympathize with the conflict faced by high net worth individuals who seek to do their part to mitigate climate change, yet are accustomed to a certain standard of privacy and luxury,” Vance Henderson, Hendrick’s ambassador to the U.S., said in a tongue-in-cheek statement.

Bringing the airship out of storage now made sense for Hendrick’s, which follows in the footsteps of guerrilla marketers and regional advertisers feeding on the gridiron excitement but sidestepping the $7 million media buy on the Fox telecast.

“We like to first look at conversations and cultural moments where we can inject the inefficient and complicated way we make our gin,” Michael Giardina, U.S. vp of marketing at parent company William Grant & Sons, told Adweek. “The airship doesn’t come out of the hangar very often—really only on rare occasions that need spontaneity.”

No stranger to eye-catching experiential activations, Hendrick’s plans to use the CucumbAir voyage “to help set the tone for more inconvenient launches in 2023,” he said. (The blimp’s previous U.S. tour in 2015, which floated over New York, L.A., Dallas, Chicago, Philadelphia and other cities, was an Adweek Media Plan of the Year winner).

Legit amenities

For the plebeian public, here’s a nose-to-the-glass peek at the CucumbAir experience, with Giardina promising that even the most lavish and outrageous perks are no joke: “The amenities are legit!”

Awaiting the rockstars, moguls, divas and superstars are:

  • Choice of live performances which, aside from a Sondheim musical or Kafka novel, could include a violinist performing Ave Maria in three languages (any three)
  • A spa kit with fuzzy green slippers, rose-scented body oil, cucumber slice eye mask and tooth powder (rose, lavender or mint)
  • Perfectly steeped cups of tea, free Wi-Fi and Sherlock Holmes mysteries to read

In searching of passengers who are “highly motivated” and “prioritize inconvenience,” the Hendrick’s team is already in touch with some likely candidates, Giardina said. 

“We do expect more celebs, musicians, influencers, actors and actresses to have their assistants DM us and inquire about booking,” he added.

Blizzard be damned

There is a plan B in case of inclement weather—the blimp doesn’t do well in thunderstorms or heavy wind—where the CumcumbAir will be towed behind a fuel-efficient Winnebago stocked with premium nibbles and booze.

It will be possible to track the airship from the ground—it flies so low that paparazzi may snap “flattering shots of passengers through the cabin windows” to bolster their eco-friendly bona fides, per Henderson—but the exact route hasn’t been determined. It will depend on the glitterati on board.

And lest anyone think this is a money-making venture—how uncouth—Hendrick’s included a profit statement with its announcement.

“All fees are merely our operating expenses. Contrary to expectations and business savvy, there is literally and precisely zero profit included in these costs,” per the brand. “It is our honor to serve.”