Glenfiddich has a new campaign running in the US featuring an imaginary man named "Brock Savage". Who is this man of mystery? And more importantly why should we care who he is? In the November 11th issue of Print Critic, Mark Teasdale, SVP-marketing of William Grant & Sons said, "There are 30-plus single malts sold in the U.S. with a name beginning with 'Glen.' This campaign simplifies it all for consumers, especially those ordering Glenfiddich for the first time."
But what does it simplify? Apart from trying to get people to order a "Fiddich", what does this campaign say about the whisky? Is creating such a character an effective way to stand apart in the realm of whisky and alcohol advertising?
The ads attempt to take on an European flair in the style of the photography and language reminisant of Mr Howell from Gilligan's Island.
Agency: Merkley + Partners, N.Y.
ECDs: Andy Hirsch, Randy Saitta
CW: Chuck Borghese
AD: Mike MacNeill
Photographer: Roxanne Lowit
There is a big difference between these US ads and the ads running in the UK.
The UK advertising campaign keeps the theme "The Independent Spirit", which they started using in 2002, created by McCann Erikson. They feature an iconic stag in modern, urban settings with the tagline "Independently Minded. Independently Made." Definitely a more classic, traditional feel to this advertising while keeping it modern.
There's definitely a fun, retro kitsh to the US campaign. But will some random guy shilling whisky work? When you see these ads, do you wonder "who the heck is this fella?" Or "why should I care what he drinks?"
Back in the 1990s, Deutsch NY created a similar character, Mr. Jenkins, for Tanqueray gin. He was an older white guy, composed of a collage of illustration and photography. Five years after this campaign broke, Mr. Jenkins was give the old heave-ho for a campaign that played up the images and attitudes of London style. If he was still moving their gin, he probably wouldn't have been axed.
Over at WhiskyFun.com there's a November 3rd entry that discusses this new campaign and brings up the similarities between Brock and Mr. Jenkins.
Funny new Glenfiddich 2004 'Brock Savage' campaign -
Does a malt need humour, or even self-derision? While the maniacs are debating behind the scenes on important topics such as 'is a single malt whisky a brand?', some, like Glenfiddich, launch some Mr Magoo (or The Party's Peter Sellers)-inspired campaigns, with a new character named 'Brock Savage'. Brock Savage, Brock Savage... wait, couldn't he be Mr Jenkins younger brother? You know, Tanqueray's Mr Jenkins, an 'old white male' saying rather scandalous and/or absurd old-white-male things about just anything - and in any situation. Good ideas never die, it appears... Okay, next debate on whiskyfun: is 'pastiche' better than 'collage'? Nah, joking.
Just recently, Wendy's dropped their "unofficial spokesperson" Mr. Wendy after only 8 months. Many consumers find Jared in Subway's spots extremely annoying. And loads of people hated Mr. Whipple. Which goes to prove that creating such characters can be a risky idea. At the same time, it's the success of characters such as the Michelin Man (created 1898), The Pillsbury Doughboy (created 1965), Ronald McDonald (created 1963), Tony the Tiger (created 1951), and Smokey the Bear (created1944) that continue to fuel the desire create new icons that will last through the ages.
I suppose the main question to raise in all of this is if people will actually want to be like this character they have created. Or at the very least, will he catch their attention through the gluttony of advertising they see every day? ACD Chuck Borghese said, "We cast an older, experienced actor to portray Brock Savage. We wanted someone with an accessible, likable gravitas. The characterization conveys a sense of a life lived — and being lived — to the fullest." The WhiskyFun.com site calls it "funny", although I don't know that I would go that far.
What is amusing is that neither the Glenfiddich web site nor the William Grant & Sons site have any information about the campaign. Perhaps they are trying to keep it under wraps until Monday, November 15th, when the BrockSavage.com site is fully operational. Until then you can go check out the funky illustrated flashy teaser they have up.
BONUS FIND: The guy who did the voice over for Brock Savage has a blog here.