An Opinion: Is It Time To Hit The Brakes On Press Release Jargon?

I get a lot of press releases every week. They are indeed a great source of information and perfect for keeping up to date with industry news and new releases. There are very few that stand out, mostly due to the fact they are written to a standard format for rapid ingestion of the information presented in a layout that is familiar.

What happens when you less rapidly digest the information? What happens when you pick it apart and chew over it slowly?

Hold that thought.

I’ve had a few rants about whisky marketing recently. You can read my thoughts on several different approaches to marketing in my reviews of  Daftmill, Ardgowan Expedition and Steel Bonnets.

I know two things.

1 – I am getting old, cynical and grumpy, I cannot dispute this.

2 – Marketing has its place in every industry. It is the way of the world these days.  Products are aimed at certain demographics using particular channels and formats that will catch their attention and lead to action (eg purchase of said product)

Hold these thoughts too.

Now mix them all together.

Surely I am not the only one who is starting to find the marketeering and the hype filled and contrived marketing rather tedious? The same phrases again and again.

Perhaps for those who aren’t in the industry but receive this information it’s what they want to hear, but there is a rising tide of us from within the industry who are just shaking their heads.

It has been an issue for a while but I recently feel that I’ve finally reached a tipping point.

Take as an example a recent press release from Beam Suntory announcing the release of the new Sauvignon Blanc expression from Auchentoshan

(I’m not picking on them, its just a perfect example that illustrates my point)

Here it is for those who want to read it:

AUCHENTOSHAN ANNOUNCES NEW SAUVIGNON BLANC EXPRESSION

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The Amazon exclusive will target Urban drinkers with a brand new addition to the single malt category that’s ‘better shared’

Auchentoshan®, the urban malt inspired by the city of Glasgow, has today announced the launch of Auchentoshan Sauvignon Blanc, a new special edition whisky available exclusively on Amazon.

Available to purchase on 15th November, Auchentoshan Sauvignon Blanc is a unique combination of two worlds – the smooth triple distilled taste of Auchentoshan and the unique flavour of Sauvignon blanc casks that gives a fresh, vibrant take on Auchentoshan, setting out to reflect the ever-changing needs of the urban millennial.

The brand new urban malt is matured in ex-bourbon barrels and finished in Sauvignon Blanc Barrique casks, which gives it a distinct, smooth and high-quality taste. Distilled (sic) at 47% ABV, the result is a unique single malt that’s ‘best served chilled’ allowing the fresh flavours of citrus and apple to excite the pallete (sic).

The release of Auchentoshan Sauvignon Blanc follows the recent announcement of the brand’s vibrant new look packaging and brand positioning, aiming to reach a new generation of whisky drinker who are looking for a smooth and exciting whisky to be enjoyed together with friends.

Eileen Livingston, Senior Director of Scotch Whisky for Beam Suntory, comments: “Auchentoshan Sauvignon Blanc is a unique innovation that disrupts the category and provides consumers with a drinking experience out of the norm. This enables us to connect with urban millennials who are looking to sample new expressions and shared experiences.”

Ron Welsh, Master Blender for Auchentoshan, says: “We set out to create a never-seen-before whisky on the market. Auchentoshan Sauvignon Blanc was crafted to be enjoyed chilled, allowing us to innovate on the key occasions when the product is shared.”

For those that skimmed the text here are the edited highlights…

Targets ‘urban drinkers’

It’s an ‘urban malt’

A “unique combination”

“Inspired by the city of Glasgow”

“New generation of whisky drinker”

“Distilled at 47% abv” (I’ve checked, it should read bottled at 47% abv)

‘To excite the pallate” (I’m guessing it’s meant to say palate?)

“Unique innovation that disrupts the category”

“Allows us to connect with urban millennials”

‘”A never seen before whisky”

“Designed to be served chilled”

“Allowing us to innovate on the key occasions when the product is shared”

Best throw in a picture of whisky with an ice cube in it for maximum disruption too…

Really?

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Is this what people outside the industry (I would be inclined to think that most marketeers fit in this category as they are outsourced – but I’d happily be proved wrong) think that this is what people within the industry want to hear?

FYI – It’s not what we want to hear and its time the industry pushed back. Not just consumers but the whisky companies themselves need to realise that this sort of marketing spin has gone a little too far. The tail is wagging the dog.

What do any of these phrases actually mean? They are just noise, and noise we have all heard before. Playing bullshit bingo with on trend phrases will just shut people off.

Firing out emetic, regurgitated, bland and contrived emails will get you nothing back but may yet build resentment.

For the record I’m not against industry disruption, ice in whisky, whisky cocktails, whisky in the freezer – you pay for the whisky you do with it what you like – AND the more people who we can get into whisky the better for us all. It’s just the monotonous unrelenting use of these phrases that are essentially devoid of definition.

Maybe I’m not their target demographic (I was born in the 1980’s and I live in the country so not exactly an Urban Millennial) but I’m still really interested in the product. I can imagine that a light, triple distilled spirit such as Auchentoshan would probably suit some time in a Sauvignon Blanc cask and I’m interested to try it – and I’m sure others would be too.

Its arrival has just been wrapped up in so many meaningless words its hard to hear what the whisky itself is saying.

Show me your passion for the product, don’t just regurgitate your word soup marketing plan.

Let your product be your voice.

 

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2 comments

  1. Very good article, thanks. Apologies for a rant below, but I had to vent it 🙂

    “Gucci gang, Gucci gang, Gucci gang, Gucci gang” this is how I often see what happens around whisky world these days.

    “Urban”.

    I can only speak from the customer’s perspective, no ties to the industry other than my really humble wallet. I work with cutting edge technology on daily basis, I design integrated circuits for a living. Whisky has been my patient, slow, organic, living and quiet world to get away from all the noise around us. I like it this way. I spend a lot on whisky considering that I don’t have a lot disposable income.

    If there’s too much faff and noise around some releases, stating how wonderful this particular one is, quoting industry experts, showing photos of independent (clearly) individuals nosing a fresh pour from the cask in question (with pleasure of course), seasoned distillers who remember days of yore and smile how this whisky is the best ever, closeup shots of barley seeds sifting through hands of a rustic looking farmer, it all makes me think that I am going pay a lot of premium for all of this before I even taste the whisky. I am not buying into it.

    I get it, it’s a cut throat business, saturated with many choices, everyone tries to be unique and you have to be loud to be heard. But after the initial hype most tend to walk into same old cliches. Over-distilled and young straight mixers or premium price offerings with not-so-premium maturation choices.
    Fast $$ yes, but can you produce whisky differently and keep the standards high? Not every product can be converted into high tech business/sales model – new product every few months, bolder than the one before. Not growing the business is not an option of course. Disruption, I have no problem with that, but for 9 times out 10 it probably won’t work. Bottles sold and quickly forgotten, where’s the legacy in that?

    A gold rush. If you didn’t release something new, edgy take your anorak, tweed-like boring simple range elsewhere. This is how I see this “urban” approach to whisky.

    Hey Producers, I am looking into brandy more and more. It looks to me not a lot changed there in comparison with whisky. And I like that.

    I am whisky fan and ordinary drinker of so called “core” ranges, that of curse evolve (it’s an organic process after all) but at own pace, the tastes I can relate to, tastes I am familiar with, tastes that I fell in love years ago but I also have a chance to evolve with them. I am not against young whiskeys at all, I often drink these, but I think young (whiskies and people alike) are particulary hard to work with and require a lot of knowledge and experience to get the best out of them.

    I am navigating the world of vatted malts recently. Setting aside (way too often silly) backstories that come with a bottle, good bonders know how to pick casks to create something new, fresh but using old, unwanted, forgotten stock. Something like, dunno, a mix-tape music album of my favourite artists that do not record anymore, with songs I haven’t heard before.

    I guess in the light of the above I am completely not urban, well I dont live in a city but a satellite town, so this Auchentoshan is clearly not for me.

  2. Dear Amateur Drammer,
    Our Strategic Brand Development Policy Activists were disheartened of the symbolic disenfranchised message your narrative conveys.
    Rather than ‘urban’ we have initiated an ‘armchair’ expression complete with appropriate delivery system of courier pigeon that crystallizes the aspiration of ‘Taking Our Spirits Higher’ with your demographic category
    As a valued customer a flat cap, pipe and slippers are also enclosed to enhance the all encompassing sensory experience.
    Enjoy

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