Friday, 31 October 2014

Oh, DO be vague!

On a recent trip involving Frankfurt airport, I was convinced for a moment or two that David Beckham was launching yet another male fragrance, from the posters featuring his still boyish good looks and a square blue bottle. However, on closer inspection, I was taken aback to see the word "Haig." David Beckham is the so-called "Brand Partner" for a new whisky brand from drinks giant Diageo, called Haig Club.

I remember Haig whisky from the slogan "Don't be Vague ask for Haig." I seem to recall beermats with this slogan in my parents' cocktail cabinet, amid the bottles of Bols and Gordons. The whisky market has been in need of resuscitation in the UK for as long as I can remember and I expect that the launch of Haig Club is Diageo's bash at doing just that. But I'm not really sure that it's the right way of going about it.

There's a film commercial shot by the inevitable Guy Ritchie, featuring Beckham and his jet-set pals swanning around Scotland and other exotic locations in kilts and beards.

I can't say I am convinced about David Beckham as a "Brand Partner" for this launch. I am sure that most people would not go further than the assumption that he's launching a new fragrance. Beckham is fine for anything to do with football, fashion and perfume, but whisky? Couldn't they have found someone, um ... Scottish?

Then there's the claims and copy for the new brand. It's a "rediscovery" of something called a single grain whisky, which the cynical might see as a way of charging an exclusive price for something that's cheaper to produce than a single malt whisky. It's described as "a fresh clean style that showcases butterscotch and toffee". Eh? Since when was butterscotch and/or toffee fresh? And there's a few lines about how to mix the stuff if you're not quite up to the "light, clear and extra smooth" taste neat - "choose another from our exciting range of signature serves." Ugh. On top of all this, a ghastly nannying statement: "At the heart of HAIG CLUB lies a clear message of responsible drinking...It is important, therefore, that those who enjoy HAIG CLUB do so responsibly and in moderation."

Maybe I'll eat my words, or drink them, and this is the perfect way to attract youngish non-whisky drinkers into the category. But it just feels too plastic, too marketing-speak, too desperately trendy to appeal to me.

I like whisky. But part of the joy of whisky for me is authenticity, history, being treated like an adult, mystery, potency.

I like my whisky vague.

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