When does marketing turn ugly?

This is a proper old school rant, so get comfy.

Imagine blocking me on Twitter? Imagine not wanting to view my witticisms and where else will you find out when I’ve uploaded another fact and fun based review?

Imagine blocking me, the Captain, I know, I bet you can’t believe it either, well I have and by a whisky firm too, let me explain.

First off, I block people all the time, every now and again I’ll have a wee scan over those who have started to follow me and PR types who have those weird locked profiles and work for companies who blank me are blocked as are any nasty people, racists and the like who just happen to like whisky, they get blocked too, but otherwise it’s all cool.

And then Hyde Irish Whiskey blocked me, an actual whisky maker with their own Master Distiller and warehouses and copper stills, they, they blocked me, and why? Well it seems to be because I, along with a few others, challenged them on their lies.

Whisky marketing is huge, we all know this but there is a line and in my opinion Hyde have crossed that line, in fact they’ve gone so far over the line they can’t see the line, they may have even painted over the line with their own line, a line of horseshit.

This article though is more about marketing and where we’re at, if you want to look in depth at the nonsense Hyde are coming out with in detail then I’ll refer you to this excellent article by Bill Linnane, and I suggest you should all do this.

Let’s start though with some more whimsical marketing.

Made up names.

It’s mainly supermarkets that do this, names like Glen Marnoch or Ben Bracken sound a lot more whisky and Scottish than LIDL OWN BRAND WHISKY but the important thing here is that the rest of the label is clear and factual, it will have, where applicable, an age statement, it will state where in Scotland the whisky is produced and will, if you look really hard, have the actual company who make the finished product and whilst it might not be 100% clear I think the small print is pretty big and none of the supermarkets actually lay claim to anything that isn’t true, it’s just a bit of artistic licence.

Limited Editions.

How far do we go with what’s a limited edition? 100 bottles? 500? 1000? 10,000? Because I’ve seen numbers as high as this, and I think higher which have the limited edition line attached. Come on now, how is ten or twenty thousand bottles of some random bottle of whisky a limited edition? In my opinion a limited edition product means it’s a batch which when sold won’t just be recreated using the exact same recipe as before therefore it’s limited to a certain number of bottles, Single Cask is limited anything else can be made again.

Style over Substance.

Fancy labels, wooden boxes, scrolls of authenticity, we’ve all seen it folks and none of it matter one jot, I would do away with all of it, I’d have plain labels, I would ban the use of boxes on environmental grounds and I would only allow fanciful back stories on blends because they are blends and are allowed some slack.

That’s not say I don’t mind a bit of providence, Glenfiddich recently launched an experimental range and the XX (Twenty) has a genuinely interesting bit of history to it, it’s worth reading and it’s a valid addition to any marketing because it’s an actual thing that actually happened to create the whisky that is not the same as suggesting that your whisky was taken on the battlefield seconds before Bannockburn occurred, or whatever.

Whisky companies spin myths as that’s okay as long as it’s not too devious, Highland Park were created and still owned by the Viking Gods, Spey Whisky’s master distiller is Michael Owen the former injury prone footballer and Dalmore make decent whisky all nonsense and all things I may have made up, on a whim, but it doesn’t really matter because the legal framework is in place to make sure they don’t misbehave too much and that what they say is in the bottle actually is what’s in the bottle.

FACTS.

People claiming opinion to be fact and people spooning it up. In my opinion whisky gets its flavour mainly from the barrel it’s placed in and the environment that barrel is stored in (and if the barely is peated then obviously that too). I also happen to think whisky changes whilst in the bottle, over time, a slow process, but a process none the less. That’s my opinion, I don’t print it as gospel though and I don’t  think others should.

Men in hats who writes bibles.

And are taken seriously by millions, I mean, really, come on now.

It’s a minefield so it is, I get next to nothing from PR companies so I don’t have to worry about putting up loads of wee adverts for them in exchange for goods and those who do tolerate me seem to do precisely because of this, which I’m grateful for.

I can say and do as I please because no one reads these anyway and any company who does wish to work with me understands that I say what I like and if I don’t like a whisky I just say nothing, but that’s a personal taste issue, but some companies cross the line into actual dishonesty and that’s not right.

Really, all a whisky or whiskey company has is its word. If I buy a bottle of anything I expect a few things to be legit, I expect any age statement to be accurate, I expect the place of distillation to be accurate and where the whisky was matured, I want that to be accurate too, personally I’d like to see if any colours are added or not and of course I want the strength to be accurate.

Too much to ask?

The Captain.

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