At first glance, the packaging for Coven, a new hand-crafted vodka made by Arbutus Distillery in Nanaimo on tiny Vancouver Island in Canada, looks deceptively traditional, fitting right in on retail shelves with the products of large spirit producers. But darkness changes everything.
Asked to develop a product name, brand personality and package design for Arbutus Distillery’s inaugural product, Nanaimo-based agency, Hired Guns Creative, sought to take consumers into the deeper realm of the spirit world. Hired Guns chose the name “Coven” for the Arbutus vodka brand, not only because it was a play on the idea of spirits, but because it suggested gatherings, mystery and a hint of sexual allure. From a design perspective, creative director Richard Hatter also found Coven “a very clean, balanced word that is easy to work with on a graphic level. And, of course, there are the other obvious criteria; it was easy to spell, say, pronounce, read from a distance, and it was available to trademark.”
To bring credibility to this new product in stores, Hired Guns used several traditional indicators of quality: hand-dipped wax, die-cut label, foil and embossing details, and lots of whitespace. What isn’t seen in daylight, however, is a gathering of witches and night creatures made visible through a glow-in-the-dark phosphorescent coating overprinted on the bottle. The text on the back label adds to the haunting impression: “Shrouded in the mist of the West Coast, a timeless rite enchants those who seek a greater spirit. Initiation requires strict dedication to the craft. There is power in numbers, so gather together because when the lights fade, the ritual begins. We’ve been waiting for you.” Drink up and be merry; the spirits are alive.
How do you grab the attention of jaded creative directors? By arousing their curiosity. In a campaign for Kontor, a dance music label in Germany, Ogilvy Deutschland developed a “Back to Vinyl” direct mail piece that used high-tech gimmickry to promote the new Boris Dlugosch release. Ad agency recipients got a large flat package that contained a vinyl record inside, instead of the usual CD or USB. The vinyl came with instructions to place the record on the printed turntable on the back of the envelope, then activate the QR code with a smart phone. Recipients could listen to the latest Dlugosch track and “move” the needle to play other tracks as well or to contact Kontor via the connect icon. Needless to say, the vinyl promo often became the talk of the office and didn’t get thrown away.
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Would you like history better if everything wasn’t so old? This ad campaign to promote UKTV Yesterday Channel’s new 14- part series called “The Secret Life of…” makes over famous figures to help us understand how they might present themselves if they were alive today. The Yesterday channel — which uses the tagline “Entertainment inspired by history” — commissioned award-winning author/historian Dr. Suzannah Lipscomb to work with a team of digital artists to give classic portraits an up-to-date twist. Queen Elizabeth I looks like an “iron lady” CEO who enjoys downsizing under performers.
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The new advertising campaign for Whiskas from Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO in the UK is built around the premise that big cats (i.e., leopards, lions, jaguars, etc.) and little cats share the same natural instincts. Understanding this behaviorial link, Whiskas says it gives domestic kitties all they naturally need in one pet food product. I love the ads, but question the connection. My cat sleeps all day and won’t take on anything more dangerous than a fake mouse and a ball on a string. But I can imagine that when my cat daydreams, she sees herself stalking a herd of zebra, cozying up to lions, taunting an elephant, and running as fast as an antelope. In her dreams, she’s untamed and courageous and keeping company with wild beasts. She’d love these ads.
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As renowned for its creative branding as it is for its premium vodka, Absolut continually tops itself with fantastic new visual expressions. In this case, the Swedish vodka-maker, owned by French company, Pernod Ricard, teamed with Swedish ad agency, Family Business, to give new meaning to the term “limited edition.” The idea was not just to make each Absolut bottle seem unique, but to actually be unique. To do that, Absolut had to reconfigure its bottling production line to recreate artwork with splash guns, 38 colors, and 51 patterns. A complex computerized algorithms program orchestrated these elements in a randomized fashion so that no two bottles were decorated alike. In fact, Absolut estimates that it would take 94 quintrillion bottles before two identical designs resulted. The company is not producing that many, but it did individually number each of the four million bottles in its limited edition line, which it appropriately named “Absolut Unique.”
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