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Top 10 spirits marketing moves in October

Last month’s top marketing moves included a video highlighting 155 years of Smirnoff vodka, a Wild Turkey digital interview series hosted by Matthew McConaughey, and John Dewar & Sons’ Amazon whisky tasting.

Actor Matthew McConaughey interviewed trailblazers in the Talk Turkey series

In October, Balcones lent its support to singer-songwriter Jarod Dickenson on his UK tour, and blended Scotch brand The Famous Grouse put its Smoky Black expression in the spotlight in a new ad.

Wild Turkey Bourbon “explored conviction” in a new digital interview series hosted by brand partner Matthew McConaughey, while Kraken rum and ocean clean‐up charity Surfers Against Sewage partnered on a series of beach cleaning activations.

Over the following pages, we name our pick of the top marketing initiatives launched in October 2019.


Texas whiskey brand Balcones has partnered with singer‐songwriter Jarrod Dickenson to support his UK tour.

Texas native Dickenson will tour the UK from the end of November, playing 13 shows in cities including London, Bristol, Manchester, Totnes, Halifax, Norwich, Shrewsbury, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Belfast and Glasgow.

At each stop on the 13‐date Unplugged and Distilled tour, music fans will be able to sample Balcones whiskeys, including Baby Blue, Texas Rye 100 and Texas Single Malt.

For more information, see


Kraken rum has partnered with ocean clean‐up charity Surfers Against Sewage to launch a limited edition bottle and series of beach cleaning activations.

The brand created a ceramic Reef Wreckage bottle for 2019 and will donate £1 (US$1.30) from the sale of each bottle to the charity.

Kraken will also organise a beach clean in the new year and will reward those who participate with rum cocktails.

The fifth edition in Kraken’s series of ceramic bottles, this is the second time the rum brand has supported Surfers Against Sewage.

The Famous Grouse

The Famous Grouse showcased the “darker and smokier side” of its Smoky Black expression in its latest TV advert.

The advert for the Edrington‐owned brand features a grouse as it takes a midnight stroll in the mountains. In the clip, a full moon is revealed and the grouse is transformed into a “darker and smokier feathered version”.

Created by The Leith Agency, the new creative is supported by a multi‐channel integrated marketing plan that includes paid Facebook media, in‐store and online visibility, along with sampling opportunities.

The advert is part of a £1 million (US$1.3m) UK marketing plan and launches amid a “growing trend towards peated whisky”.


Botanically-brewed drinks maker Fentimans is preparing for the festive season by constructing a life‐sized gingerbread house in London.

The activation celebrates the recent launch of the brand’s Pink Ginger soft drink, and will offer signature cocktails and sweet treats in a “fairy‐ tale environment”.

Situated at Tobacco Dock rooftop bar Skylight, the activation has been designed to look like a real gingerbread house and is decorated with icing and candy canes.

Launching on 14 November and running until January 2020, the Fentimans Pink Gingerbread House can host groups of eight and will be available to book in three‐hour slots throughout the festive season.

Visitors will receive a Fentimans hot Pink Ginger cocktail on arrival.

Sesión Tequila

Sesión Tequila has partnered with American basketball team the LA Clippers to offer sampling activations and serves during home games held at the Staples Centre.

In the 2019‐2020 NBA season, Sesión will offer season ticket holders the chance to sample its Blanco, Reposado and Mocha Tequilas.

Scott Sonnenberg, chief global partnerships officer, LA Clippers, said: “We are excited to partner with Sesión for the 2019‐20 season. They are a brand that shares the Clippers’ commitment to excellence, and an incredible addition to the Clippers family.”

During the season, Sesión will also be highlighted on branded signage throughout the arena and across Clippers’ social media channels.

John Dewar & Sons

Scotch whisky maker John Dewar & Sons partnered with retailer Amazon to host an online whisky tasting, Amazon UK’s first live‐streamed event.

Hosted by malt master Stephanie MacLeod, drinks writer Alice Lascelles and Aberfeldy brand home ambassador Matthew Cordiner, the interactive whisky tasting was filmed at the Aberfeldy Distillery in Speyside and streamed to audiences in the UK and Germany.

During the tasting, viewers were led through John Dewar & Sons’ Single Malt Discovery Collection, a set of three Scotch whiskies from Aberfeldy, Aultmore and Craigellachie.

Participants were also able to submit questions for a Q&A with the hosts.


Diageo partnered with the director of live action film Ghost in the Shell to create a short video highlighting the 155 years of Smirnoff.

Directed by Rupert Sanders, the Infamous Since 1864 film tells the story of the brand, covering its origins in Russia, resurrection in France and position at the “forefront of the cocktail revolution” in the US.

Neil Shah, global marketing director of Smirnoff, said: “We’re delighted to share the far‐from‐ordinary story of Smirnoff and what it took to become the world’s number‐one vodka brand.”

Developed in partnership with global creative agency 72 and Sunny, Infamous Since 1864 made its debut in Europe and will roll out to further international markets including the US, Canada, Brazil, Argentina and Kenya.

Wild Turkey

Bourbon brand Wild Turkey has launched a digital interview series and documentary show in collaboration with actor Matthew McConaughey.

The new Talk Turkey interview series will see McConaughey, the brand’s creative director since 2016, interview trailblazers “with unwavering conviction”.

“We are exploring conviction,” said McConaughey. “Talk Turkey is connecting with ground‐breakers and way‐makers who, like the Russell family of distillers, have an uncompromising conviction to do what they do.”


Ian Macleod Distillers‐owned Smokehead Islay Single Malt Whisky has unveiled a custom motorbike made in partnership with engineer Tyler Lunceford.

Developed over the past nine months, the one‐of‐a‐kind Ducati motorbike, called The Smoker, was inspired by vintage bikes.

Lunceford said: “Smokehead’s support of unique crafts‐men and women resonated with me immediately. Building a customised bike is an incredible process. And it’s a slow process. Notching, welding, grinding, every single detail needs to be accounted for. I wanted to make sure this bike was phenomenal before unleashing it.

“I wanted to make a bike for the street, something that’s comfortable, with a really vintage appeal. This isn’t a bike that’s going to be polished and put in a museum.”


English gin brand Warner’s has completed a £350,000 (US$452,000) campaign to promote its new raspberry flavour.

The campaign covered outdoor, digital, on‐premise outlets and the off‐trade, with a focus on London and the south east through 48 displays at key National Rail sites in the region.

The campaign, which ran until 14 October, was predicted to gain 23 million impressions, and saw the brand increase its social media and digital spend to further engage with consumers.

Warner’s founder Tom Warner said: “We make gin the authentic way: we’re gin farmers. It’s not just about creating an extraordinary liquid for us. It’s about bringing people together. This campaign isn’t just about our fantastic new grocery listings – it’s also our way of thanking and driving custom to those customers who’ve supported us from the start.”

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