Long considered to be the drink of choice for Argyle-bedecked 19th hole-dwellers, the brown spirits category was beginning to enjoy a resurgence in popularity with hipster tastemakers in cities like New York, Chicago, Boston and Portland.
Working with latter-day cultural anthropologist Irma Zandl, we dubbed this emerging demographic as the "Urban Independent" and ruminated on how best to market to a group of consumers that really, really dislike being targeted.
Digging through Dewar's rich century-and-a-half long history, we stumbled upon the story of founder's son, Tommy Dewar. In many ways Tommy was the original hipster. Thanks in no small part to the Dewar family largesse, he wandered Scotland and beyond, penning occasionally astute, assuredly-scotch-marinated musings about life, love and the world we live in.
Which we thus used to introduce the world to "The Dewarism".
We decided to eschew the mantra of “print is dead” for activating the Urban Independent, taking full page ads in tastemaker publications like Vice, Tokion and Death+Taxes, using some dry humor and photojournalism to pay off Tommy’s words with a sly wink.
But where the campaign really came to life was with local market activation and promotions. Our first endeavor, prior to campaign launch, was to cultivate unsigned music artists who were willing to play Dewar’s-promoted shows and venues - we even licensed over fifteen different songs to be used for our television and radio ads (yes, we paid them). We launched “TheDewarsCollective.com” and the submissions started rolling in almost immediately.
Our next promotion was to become the official spirits sponsor of the three-day CMJ music festival in New York City, curating numerous branded events, producing the program guide insert for the Village Voice and literally coating Brooklyn and the Lower East Side with swag - including our “create a sub-sub-genre” puff-ink t-shirts (retrogrungedelica is so played out, maaaaan....).
Next stop was the Boston Underground Film Festival, kind of the Sundance before Sundance. And while we could have simply set up a few branded tents and banners, we decided to create the first ever Dewey Award. Well, technically it was “The 2007 Sir Thomas Dewar Award For Excellence In Relevant
And Or Provocative Wordsmithing In Underground Film”. Yes, we were trying to be obnoxious.
Seeing as how our entire Dewarism campaign was based around clever or thought-provoking turns of phrase, we asked all the auteurs screening their films to submit the best line from their film for our consideration.
And lest we come off looking to score cheap cred points, we gave the winner $10,000 and a fully-loaded MacBook Pro with FinalCut already installed.
Finally, with the constitutional repeal of prohibition nearing it’s 75th birthday, we wanted to capitalize on Dewar’s rightful place in US history (Dewar’s literally had ships waiting just off shore awaiting the ink to dry on the 21st Amendment). Thus, “Repeal Day” was born.
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To create an additional layer of buzz, we partnered with the New York Times to distribute 2500 free issues of the paper, wrapped in a reprint of the Dec 5, 1933 issue proclaiming “FDR Repeals Prohibition” (and a large Dewar’s ad on the back, of course). How? By casting 25 1930’s-era “newsie” paperboys to run through Mid-Town and Lower Manhattan, announcing the news.