Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Whiskey Wednesday: Mad (Whisky) Men

Those of us who are consumers would do well to remember that whisky is a business and that, for the most part, whisky companies think in terms of target audiences, demographics, sweet spots and all of that other business jargon.

I was painfully reminded of this while, when Googling, I came across an old communications plan for Johnnie Walker Blue.

The ten year old plan by the Vandy Meares consulting and graphic design firm is a fascinating look into how the commercial whisky machine works and includes a number of interesting insights as well as quirks.

  • JWB (or this consultant) apparently sees their clientele as exclusively male. There are a number of references to males, but not a single reference to females nor even a single photo of a woman.

  • The plan highlights exclusivity and social status as ways to market JWB but not quality; that is, the recommendation is clearly to sell the brand to make people feel a certain way about themselves, not to offer a great tasting whisky (but I guess we knew that).

  • The spellings whiskey and whisky are both used without any reasoning behind the use of one or the other.

  • JWB seems to view its competitors as Chivas, Macallan, Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, and strangely, Jack Daniel's and Maker's Mark, the latter two of which are repeatedly referred to as "Scotches."

It's no secret that Diageo and every other company are in the business of business, but it's interesting to peek behind the curtain and see how they talk about consumers in the board meetings.

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