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Feeling GINspired at the Drinks Roadshow Edinburgh

Feeling GINspired at the Drinks Roadshow Edinburgh

The Drinks Roadshow hit Edinburgh last week – bringing a free trade tasting and networking event to Checkpoint, Bristo Place.

It was a great chance to mix with the industry and sample a neat range of wines, craft beers and premium spirits.  This included some of the newest Scottish gins making their mark in the market from Edinburgh’s Ian Macleod to Porter’s Gin in Aberdeen and Makar Glasgow Gin to Strathearn from Perthshire.

As a gin fan and a comms professional, I really enjoyed hearing about their products – all had an interesting story to share around how their gin was brought to life. And, clearly they all have a secret botanical recipe behind their unique flavours and character.

A gin masterclass with the Gin Foundry’s Olivier Ward on the day helped lift my knowledge in this area too. Thanks to his accomplished expertise on the Juniper based nectar and his innovative Tasting Wheel – he had my fellow Stripe and I tasting gin like a pro. Post-sesh we could decipher the nutty from the herbaceous and wax lyrical to all about locating the botanical notes.

It also opened my palate to the realisation that I don’t always have to drown my gin in Fever Tree or Fentimans – just a splash or on the rocks will often do nicely. Strathearn’s Oaked Highland Gin in particular stood out here – described as being ‘whisky meets gin’ it’s a great after dinner affair. While Makar Glasgow Gin’s simple serving suggestion of adding a slice of chilli with tonic was, for me, the perfect combination.

After a lot of debate, tasting and discussion, what I left feeling most excited about was the realisation that the ‘Gin revival’ is not showing any signs of slowing down. Gin now contributes £1.6bn to the UK economy – with seventy per cent of this being produced here in Scotland.  What’s more, it seems we’ve become a nation of gin drinkers – apparently we drank a million litres of gin in Scotland last year with Edinburgh drinking more than any other city!

A recent Mintel report has also shown that it’s younger consumers who are really starting to drive growth in this category.  More than two in five (42%) Brits aged 18-34 had drunk gin last year compared with 27% of over-45s.

The younger audience aren’t just drinking it either – some are having a go at crafting it too. It’s three friends from up North that are behind Porter’s Gin. The entrepreneurial trio became the first to start distilling gin in Aberdeen for 100 years, after collaborating with the UK’s oldest distillers G&J to bring their premium gin to the market.  While Luke Smith, a distiller for Poetic License – a Sunderland based gin –  told us how he started distilling gin in his kitchen before venturing into crafting it for a living.

With so much passion behind the craft, it’s easy to see why there are so many exciting gins being produced right across the country. While the gin bubble isn’t ready to pop, it seems like a week doesn’t go by without another new launch to market.

For gin fans everywhere, this makes for an exciting time.  But for the ever-growing range of artisan and craft brands it simply means more competition in an already busy marketplace. Working hard to achieve standout and gain an edge while staying true to their craft nature will therefore be key to maintaining growth and driving sales.  The versatility of this spirit and its appeal to a broad range of audiences presents a huge opportunity however, to drive even more ‘gin-novation’ and forge a strong brand image that really connects with consumers.

Check out this Scottish Ginfographic map from 5pm.co.uk too – a worthy road trip, I reckon.

5pm Gin Map of Scotland

 

 

 

 

The new Barbie ad: leading a campaign for change?

The new Barbie ad: leading a campaign for change?


The new Barbie ad ‘Imagine the Possibilities’ hit the screens last week and its timing was spot on. It’s been a month of conversations about equal rights for women – thanks to the film release of The Suffragettes and, of course, that gender pay-gap essay.

Now, we have a women’s libber Barbie too. Let’s just hope she doesn’t come in a box…

Well done though Mattel, I’m sure the launch was perfectly planned to coincide with the film’s release and the rest will have been the PR gift that’s kept on giving.

It’s certainly got people talking – like all bold, new campaigns should. Of course, some people love it but there are haters of its very nature too. It is still Barbie after all.

Personally, I think Mattel has nailed it – it’s inspiring, positive and shows that girls can aim for more than their dream house, shopping and marrying someone like Ken. It’s emotive too. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it a brought a wee tear to my eye.

I did have an ironic laugh however, when someone pointed out that when you click through at the end it takes you to this.

Not quite in the same vein somehow, Mattel. There is something to be said for thinking about cross channel/platform communications.

However, at least it’s taking positive action and trying to (finally) break beyond traditional gender stereotypes by inspiring little girls to aim high.

What’s also been hugely encouraging is that male icons have been joining in the pro-feminist conversation too.

Bradley Cooper responded to J-Law’s essay by encouraging women to stick up for themselves and aim to change mind-sets. James Bond’s new film Spectre features a fifty one year old love interest, and Daniel Craig (rightfully) slammed an interviewee recently when she suggested Bond had ‘succumbed to the charms of an older woman’. “I think you mean the charms of a woman his own age”, he replied.

Nice one James.

Could it be then that the tides are starting to turn?

While they’ve attempted to shift perceptions in the past, with the likes of Computer Engineer Barbie – complete with a pink laptop. In reality, there’s probably a long way to go until Barbie is taking over the boardroom, stops accessorising in pink, puts on weight and, is played with by the boys as much as girls. But, if this is just the early days of its evolution then it’s a good start.

We know how challenging – and hugely rewarding – it is to try and drive behaviour change via campaigns. It takes time and the objective to win hearts and minds must be ongoing.
So let’s hope this good work from Mattel doesn’t stop here.