Creative Marketing, but does it Work for the Brand?

Whiskey brands used to focus on an older target market. Well-heeled, sophisticated and somewhat serious. But a younger market offers growth opportunities that can’t be ignored, and many whiskey brands have updated their marketing, using advertising to create an image of friendship, fun and whiskey.


Ballantine’s has taken a different approach.  Partnering with a high-tech clothing company, they have combined creativity and technology so advanced that it is not yet available, using this video to promote their concept and pique the interest of a new target market.

But it looks like they may have overestimated the impact of this campaign.  The technology is amazing, but the campaign raises a few questions:

1.  Is it cool, or is it geeky?
2.  Does the technology say anything about the whiskey?
3.  Have they strayed too far from their brand values?
4.  Does this campaign sit well with their other marketing?
5. Are Ballantine’s getting as much from the campaign as their partner?
6. Did the technology hijack the strategy?

I may eat my words in six months’ time, but after three months, with approximately 238 000 Facebook likes, fewer than 1200 Twitter followers, and only around 600 000 YouTube views (compared to over 811 million for Gangnam Style, for example), this international campaign isn’t looking good.

If you’d like your marketing to be strategy driven, give Octarine a call, and let’s talk.

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Now this is brilliant marketing!


  1. Sharon Fay on November 26, 2012 at 15:18

    Hi Ann

    Wow, it certainly presents a host of novel potential campaign ideas. I like the concept that the good old t-shirt is the original ‘like’ button!
    New ideas like this are always inspiring – thanks for this! Cheers, Sharon

  2. Ann Druce on November 26, 2012 at 09:02

    HI Cade

    I love your comment that technology is the microphone. And I think we should definitely capitalise on technology.

    My concern is that in this case the t-shirt technology is so dramatic that this becomes the hero, rather than the brand.

    When I first saw the video, I was so impressed. I wanted to applaud Ballantine’s for their bold approach, thinking they might be as innovative as their t-shirt. But instead, I found myself looking for more information about the technology partner. And then I wondered if I was being cynical so followed the trail to the numbers, which are so disappointing.

    But don’t get me wrong, I love the concept. (And can just imagine the promotional opportunities – a whole new meaning to mobile billboards!)

    I suspect that they invested too large a proportion of their budget in developing the prototype, leaving too little to leverage it. This may have resulted in relying too heavily on social media and failing to use an integrated campaign to complete the circle.

    • Cade Lamalette on November 26, 2012 at 11:30

      I do agree that the t-shirt might be the hero. But so is life, when it comes to advertising on new media types, or media that is almost alien to our current media channels. But as soon as the public becomes exposed to it, and the tech becomes opened for consumption, it will be up to the brand again to re-invent itself.

      Its quite possible, that branding of this nature might become an extension of the brand ambassador, rather than random individuals walking around with corporate insignia.

      Rather individuals will use the type of tech to improve their digital footprint amoung their relevant social circles/interests.

      Finally, i think social media is the most valuable platform to actually stimulate the market/world.
      The biggest problem i find with social media is that too many people call themselves “social media guru’s” and don’t really have a understanding of content marketing and little or no copywriting skills to accurately ‘talk’ to their market.

  3. Peter Streng on November 26, 2012 at 08:43

    Like all new things, particularly technology and also particularly in the electronic communications field, it is absolutely fascinating!
    We live in the ‘Y’- generational space, so anything goes! So, for me, it is a matter of both functionality, i.e. will the T-Shirt be comfy as a normal T-Shirt extolling the virtues of Bud Light, and using the right advertising medium for the right message? .. . or does that conventional wisdom still apply? I mean what is wrong with advertising the sermon times of St Johns Church on a condom?

  4. Cade Lamalette on November 26, 2012 at 08:26

    I think that this technology is cool, that said geek is the new cool, digital is the new cool.

    This technology, in my mind, doesn’t say much about whiskey as most whiskey build brands around heritage, 200 year old distilleries, master/championship whiskey blends. Which doesn’t directly lend itself to digital culture, unless the brand is clever and cross integrates with digital, which appeals to the youth market/young professionals and still maintain some resonance with the original brand building blocks.

    I cant really think of any other ballantines advertising, possibly because it’s not marketed towards me (youth/young/professional) although if ballantines does use T-shirtOS i would consume all of that media.

    Ballantines should improve their own digital footprint in the online community. Before they use T-shirtOS, to ensure that their campaign doesn’t get hijacked or prove to be more beneficial for the digital company. Or Ballantines, needs to build a strategic partnership with companies that are fully fledged digital entities and build a few cool apps that could somehow reference whiskey, how to guides, whiskey101 etc etc.

    I don’t think question 6 should even be a question. technology doesn’t hijack, it empowers. If the brand is the singer technology is most certainly the microphone.


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