The single malt scotch category calls to mind images of cigar-puffing captains of industry sitting on expensive leather chairs in exclusive smoke-filled clubs.
The Glenlivet is looking to change that perception with a marketing strategy focused on attracting new customers with a progressive attitude, said Sona Bajaria, VP of marketing at French multinational wine and spirits company Pernod Ricard.
Bajaria, who arguably has one of the coolest jobs out there, helms the group in charge of marketing for the scotch, whiskey and gin portfolio within Pernod Ricard, which beyond The Glenlivet, includes Chivas Regal, Beefeater, Seagram’s and Jefferson’s Bourbon.
Although each brand has its own approach to marketing, there’s an overarching theme: staying relevant with an evolving consumer base that includes women and spans multiple ethnicities and age groups.
A new global campaign launched in the United States earlier this month addresses that spirit of change. A TV spot depicts the history of The Glenlivet from its founding to the present day: A woman walks from room to room, each of which represents a different era – Prohibition, the 1950s, a male-dominated office in the 1980s – breaking down walls as she goes.
“It’s a tangible analogy for what we’re trying to do as a brand, which is to give people the confidence to think differently,” Bajaria said. “You can see the personality – and the spirit – of the brand coming alive.”
AdExchanger spoke with Bajaria about creative iteration, how the brand is targeting a new generation of sippers and why programmatic still works for The Glenlivet.
AdExchanger: How would you describe The Glenlivet’s marketing strategy in a nutshell?
SONA BAJARIA: We always start with the consumer. In the single malt category, that often involves education. Our goal is to be simple and straightforward, to make this category less intimidating.
Which are your go-to channels?
Digital and social are our top two channels, because that’s where you can get immediate feedback and have a two-way dialogue. But we’re also doing a lot more experiential. We’re collaborating and partnering with like-minded entities, both through digital and in person, to make sure we’re evolving as our consumer is evolving.
What are your KPIs for the new campaign?
Awareness is very high for The Glenlivet brand, but we want more consumers to include us in their consideration set when they’re thinking about single malt. That’s a good story for retailers too, because it’s a trade-up opportunity.
What’s the media strategy?
Our media strategy has digital and social channels at its heart, with a focus on ensuring that we have enough presence in key markets and on customization. During New York Fashion Week, for example, we created billboards with Coco and Breezy, who are DJs that design sunglasses, and we held events in high-traffic areas around Soho. But we wouldn’t copy and paste that same strategy and apply it to Ohio Fashion Week or to an event in Texas. There the messaging has more to do with the liquid and the product, starting with the basics of education rather than jumping into a design collaboration.
You worked with S4’s MediaMonks on this campaign. What are they doing for you?
Our relationship with MediaMonks on The Glenlivet is relatively new, but there’s a lot of potential companies like them can provide. Consumers want new, relevant content at a fast pace, and that’s what we’re getting here; snackable content that’s customized for different audiences and channels. We’re also thinking a lot about measurement so we can optimize our content on the fly.
What’s your approach to measurement?
Our media partner, 360i, is all over measurement for us. We run A/B tests in real time and use partners like MediaMonks to adapt as quickly as we can, which wasn’t possible historically.
At the same time, spirits marketing often comes down to a gut feeling, especially with a brand like The Glenlivet. There’s no set playbook, because we’re trying to break traditions. If everything is done quantitatively, you lose some of the magic of trying to create and do surprising things to shake up the category.
Does programmatic work for you, and why?
We do a portion of our buys programmatically with 360i as our media partner for The Glenlivet, and we definitely see a return. It’s about scale. We have a lot of brands at Pernod Ricard, and there’s most definitely scale we can achieve across the portfolio.
I’m always a fan of efficiency and scale – as long as we’re reaching the right consumers.
This interview has been edited and condensed.