GILBEY’S GIN: Taste the vibe.

Alcohol is weird.
People are happy to pay three times more than they need to simply because of the words on the bottle.
Most can’t even tell the difference between what’s in them.
We pitched for an alcohol brand recently, and we did a vox pop film asking for opinions of various liquids.
We lied about the prices.
Everyone preferred the most expensive one; ‘Smoother’, ‘flavour lingered longer’, ‘velvety’, etc.
Obviously it was the cheapest one.
People buy the vibe as much as a liquid.
So when you’re advertising it your vibe, or personality is key.
At BMP, people would say: “People drink the advertising.’
Take the Gilbey’s Gin campaign.
Strategically, the agency could’ve banged on about the unique recipe, its Britishness or heaven forbid, the bloody Juniper berries.
Instead, they gave it a personality that positioned it clearly against the competition.
The ads simply gave the impression that Gilbey’s weren’t one of those God awful, boring, old-fashioned Gin’s.
And they did so in a way that got noticed, because they looked nothing like ads.
It’s no accident they used illustrator Glen Baxter.

(Glen is still creating very funny drawings/Art and exhibiting: )

Baxter was, and is, quintessentially British, eccentric and irreverent.
Perfect ingredients for a Gin.
The biggest compliment I can give the creative team is that I can’t see what they did.
It looks like they just gave Glen the brief and printed what he gave them back.
It’s rarely that simple.

(Note to Editor: Is there any mileage in a ‘Ads that don’t look like ads’ series?)

N.b. David Horry has just got in touch with a bit of info on the development of this work:
‘The Gilbey’s was very odd.
As you suggest Baxter basically did all the work in 
his own mystical way – we never saw a layout – sketch it was fait accompli.
and the suit – Mike Robinson did a pretty good job persuading the clients to buy the campaign – who being CDP we didn’t meet.
But in order for Baxter to have this creative freedom, (and get paid), We insisted that the first ad we ran was entirely the agency line.
He was not to deviate – Dave Brown and I first met him at The Chelsea Arts Club which I felt was Bohemian enough for The Colonel.
He told us that he’d spent his early life in Leeds teaching mathematics and football!!
He liked the idea but was most reticent about the first concept.
Fortunately his agent, ‘Naughty Nigel’, made sure the money talked and it all happened without any stress or quibble.
The original ad was ‘It was the largest Gilbey’s and tonic they had ever seen.’
It was lovely – I think privately he hated it.
But he penned all the others and the client changed absolutely nothing – nothing – nothing!! And ‘Naughty Nigel’ got his 20%.
But the next year the campaign was dropped and we moved on to other things.’

Gilbey's Gin, Glen Baxter, CDP 'Brenda'-01Gilbey's Gin, Glen Baxter, CDP 'Spilling'-01Gilbey's Gin, Glen Baxter, CDP 'Uncle George'-01Gilbey's Gin, Glen Baxter, CDP 'Largest'-01Gilbey's Gin, Glen Baxter, CDP 'Bosun'-01Gilbey's Gin, Glen Baxter, CDP 'Robin Hood'-01Gilbey's Gin, Glen Baxter, CDP 'Waterfall'-01

Nb. Here’s an old bit of ephemera from the Dave Horry’s collaboration with Glen Baxter:af589bf76b2655f88de9bde1165f87f6



5 responses to GILBEY’S GIN: Taste the vibe.

  1. Jeff says:

    I’m not the editor (obviously) but I think there is tremendous mileage in an ‘Ads that don’t look like ads’ series.

  2. Dan Madden says:

    Hi Dave

    Just got back from critting two students. Par for the course is directing them to your blog. A great learning tool for us young ‘uns trying to not do ads.


  3. Charming stuff. I’ve no doubt they stood out a mile from everything else around them. I wonder if they would get through the marketing robots of the average marketing department these days? “B-but where’s the b-b-branding?”

    I agree with Jeff, an ‘ads that don’t look like ads’ series would be interesting.

  4. Yarden says:

    I second that, perhaps ‘Brands that don’t look like Brands’ is an idea too?

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