Uprising in association withLBB Pro User
Creativity on Tap: Creative Talent behind UK’s Alcohol Advertising
Production Company
London, UK
Seven creatives who work on alcoholic drinks brands at UK agencies sat down with LBB’s Alex Reeves to share their advertising career stories, most significant work and what it means to be a creative today

LBB’s Uprising channel is brought to you in partnership with Ridley Scott Creative Group as a part of ongoing efforts to facilitate opportunities for the next generation of creative talent.

The Uprising channel amplifies the voices of emerging talent in the industry, and with the support of the Ridley Scott Creative Group, the industry’s top talent will have an even louder voice on LBB’s global platform. The channel is an opportunity for up-and-coming talent to be celebrated for their artistry, personality, and inspirations, with each feature exploring their creative background, niche craft obsessions, the work they are most proud of, and views on the state of the industry. 

Guinness ‘Surfer’, Johnnie Walker ‘The Man Who Walked Around the World’, Budweiser ‘Wassup’. This list could continue for a while before I’d have to start Googling. Some of the world’s most iconic advertising has been made for the alcoholic drinks sector. As a category, there’s so much culture surrounding drinks that can be distilled down, tapped and mixed into refreshing creative ideas. But on the flip side, regulation makes it important that the messaging for these brands isn’t manipulative, misleading or detrimental to public health. It’s a tough brief, but there’s potential to brew up something special.

As part of a series of showcases of creative talent in collaboration with the Ridley Scott Creative Group, LBB speaks to some of the rising creative talent working on alcohol brands from agencies in the UK, to find out about the current generation of people encouraging us to drink responsibly. LBB’s Alex Reeves sat down with draftLine Europe’s Oliver Leon, AMV BBDO’s Alicia Cliffe and Laurens Granger, Wunderman Thompson London’s Matt Malindine and Oonagh O’Donnell, One Twelve Agency’s Hannah Campbell and Mr President’s Rahul Sonegra.

Oliver Leon

draftLine Europe (Part of Anheuser-Busch InBev)
Art Director

How and when did you realise you wanted to be a creative?

When I was a teenager, I used to write and draw a lot. I loved to find unexpected solutions to everyday problems and I like experimentation. I used to create my own board games and I had a ‘radio station’ recorded on cassettes. At that point, I knew I was born for creativity.

How did you get your start in the industry?

I started working in advertising right after university. I had a very peculiar portfolio book and webpage full of illustration and editorial work. I was reached by someone in BBDO, and they offered me a junior designer role.

What are some of the most significant projects you’ve worked on?

Within the beverage industry, I worked on an initiative to help off license stores recover during the pandemic, and we won a Grand Prix and a Bronze at the Cannes Lions festival, the first for our studio draftLine. 
Also, I was responsible for bringing to life the first Stella Artois restaurant in the world, named ‘Frites Artois’. A spectacular branding, interior design, photography, and documentary work, for one of our most beloved brands.

What do you find particularly interesting about advertising in the alcohol category?

We are one of the oldest categories and products of human history. That is why the best ideas in this segment will always be the ones that are based on people and not on the product.
I think that gathering around a beer is the oldest social network in the world. But the constant taboo on alcoholic beverages sometimes makes it hard for us to talk, learn, and educate ourselves about responsible drinking.

Alicia Cliffe and Laurens Granger

Worked with Guinness

How and when did you realise you wanted to be a creative?

Alicia> I first heard about jobs as an advertising creative during my art foundation but it took me doing a graphic design degree to realise that I really wanted to pursue it as a career. I tried to do everything I could to get out of designing logos.  
Laurens> My mum did art, my dad did art and my brother studied art. So naturally, I rebelled and did the sensible thing at uni – business studies. It was terrible, I was terrible. I then got fired from my first job. Over the next few years (and jobs), I slowly came to the realisation that I should probably do something that I’m actually interested in. I started meeting lovely talented people from the ad world at the same time as I was doing some comedy writing courses and eventually it clicked – you can make a living out of making up this silly stuff.

How did you get your start in the industry?

Alicia & Laurens> We both went to The School of Communication Arts 2.0 in 2015 with the aim of coming out with portfolios that could get us jobs as creatives. It was incredibly challenging, and we’ve been incredibly lucky, but it worked. AMV was our third (I think) placement and we’ve been here ever since.

What are some of the most significant projects you’ve worked on?

Alicia & Laurens> What’s been great about being here is the variety of stuff we’ve had the chance to work on. Last year’s Guinness summer campaign was fun to make and a piece of work we’re proud of. We’re also really grateful to have done some ads for Shelter last Christmas and before that, a project with CoppaFeel where we invented a bra that helped women check for breast cancer.

What do you find particularly interesting about advertising in the alcohol category?

Alicia & Laurens> See: Getting to make a Guinness ad.

Matt Malindine and Oonagh O’Donnell

Experience Designer and Service Designer
Worked with The Macallan

How and when did you realise you wanted to be a creative?

Matt> As a curious teenager I was captivated by the opening of Apple’s App Store on the iPhone. Apple’s launch campaign ‘There’s an app for that’ (2009), summarised it perfectly – suddenly there were hundreds of thousands of new digital tools, products and services in the hands of the masses. I was inspired by the designers, developers, and creatives around the world who were suddenly able to take their ideas to market and begin helping people and businesses solve both minor and major problems - and of course, kill some time too (shoutout to Doodle Jump) – with these newly created apps.
Seeing this rapid growth and change in the way we interact with the world set me on the path to becoming a creative problem solver.

Oonagh> As a toddler, my parents were always encouraging my brother and I to pick up the jumbo paint brush and poster paints and just give something arty a go (provided there was enough newspaper to protect everything within a mile radius…). These were the moments when I was happiest, making something. 

This carried on throughout my school years as I continued to be inspired by all the talented people around me. Whether it was at the drama studio, the sewing machine in the textiles room or countless hours standing at an easel. Those were the classes I always wanted to be in. 

Fast forward a few years, and I found a real love for the science of mind and behaviour, commonly known as psychology. I really wanted to find a career where I could combine my love for creativity and the human mind… and along came experience design. 

How did you get your start in the industry?
Matt> My first design roles were within London-based technology start-ups. Working with small teams and fast-paced environments meant wearing different hats and learning new skills.
Following a colleague’s recommendation, I was influenced by the design strategy book ‘Sprint’ by Google designer Jake Knapp to begin pursuing a career in product innovation and UX. Doing my research, taking a master’s degree in UX design, and a short stint in fintech at a large wealth management firm, set me up to begin my early career as an experience designer.
For the last two years, I have been learning a lot from Wunderman Thompson’s talented Experience team, where I’ve enjoyed working on projects for a range of industries including alcohol, FMCG, and professional services.

Oonagh> Something about the mind that always fascinates me is how influential the world around us can be on our behaviour. So naturally, I was particularly inspired by the advertising industry, where creativity is a key tool used to drive behavioural change. 

This fascination led me to apply for an advertising graduate role at Wunderman Thompson. But fate chose a different course, and the brilliant Talent team opened me up to the world of service design. A practice that involves deep analysis into how humans interact with the products and services around them and finding innovative ways to improve these experiences… I’d say for me this was the perfect marriage between creativity and Psychology. I went for it and found my passion in user centred research and design.   

So, in short, I owe a lot to the brilliant talent team at Wunderman Thompson and the mentors I’ve found with the experience team, who share their knowledge, talents, and passion so freely.

What are some of the most significant projects you’ve worked on?
Matt> Over the last 18 months I’ve had the pleasure of working on a variety of projects for The Macallan, one of the world’s most highly regarded whiskies. Most notably I’ve worked on improving the customer experience of their retail locations, the brand’s digital members club ‘The Macallan Society’, and the supporting welcome experience ‘My Macallan Journey’.
As a highly sought-after and exclusive product, not all The Macallan whiskies are readily available to all customers. Traditional e-commerce and retail journeys are not well suited to this context and there is a much greater importance in forming genuine customer connections. As a result, we have been working with The Macallan to deliver personalised digital and in-person experiences that bring individuals closer to the brand and products that we know they will enjoy.

Oonagh> Last year, I had the pleasure of completing an extensive research project with The Macallan to understand and document how their retail experience was coming to life. 

To diagnose the customer experience, we used a range of research methods: 

1. Competitor analysis – looking within the category to see what similar alcohol brands were doing at their retail touchpoints. 
2. Stakeholder interviews – speaking to key stakeholders from the business to understand their ambitions for the project and the internal perception of the customer experience. 
3. Customer interviews – speaking to customers of The Macallan who told us about their recent experiences at the boutiques, what was positive about the experience and what could be improved. 
4. Cognitive walkthroughs – running step-by-step through The Macallan retail experience, as a customer would, documenting and analysing every moment and interaction of the purchase. 

Through this project, we were able to provide The Macallan with an unfiltered insight into its brand experience through the eyes of its customers. These insights translate into recommendations as to how The Macallan can elevate the retail experience to best reflect its position as a luxury brand and deepen the relationships they have with its customers.

What do you find particularly interesting about advertising in the alcohol category?
Matt> Designing a product such as The Macallan is exciting as it is both a spirit and luxury brand, meaning that competitors are both in and out of the alcohol category. Although it’s important for the brand to stand out on the shelves against Belvedere, Courvoisier and Glenfiddich, its equally key that their brand and experiences are benchmarked more broadly against luxury icons such as Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin, Rolex, Cartier, and Hermès.

Brands such as these have a passionate community of collectors and advocates, so there’s a challenge in how we get away from the norm and harness the power of its social following, transforming it into powerful experiences for customers that are meaningful to them.

Oonagh> As service designers, we aim to understand how the end-to-end customer journey influences customer perceptions of the brand, and subsequently, what these customers share with others about their experience of the brand. 

Interestingly, The Macallan are in a tricky position as a luxury drinks brand, with a finite number of products that are incredibly sought after. This supply-and-demand conundrum means that not everyone can access their products, so their customers play a key role in publicly advocating for the brand and sharing their experiences.

It was fascinating to spend time talking to their ultra-loyal customers and seeing such a genuine, deep passion for the brand come through. This to me, showed the importance of consistently providing customers with a brilliant end-to-end experience, they are the ones that can provide one of the most authentic and trusted advocacies for a brand. 

Hannah Campbell

Co-Founder and Managing Director
Worked with brands including Chivas Regal, Havana Club and Hennessy

How and when did you realise you wanted to be a creative?

I didn’t even realise that there was a living to be made in the creative field when I first started out. It was a huge shock and a fantastic revelation when it dawned on me that you could spend your days developing ideas and coming up with creative strategies while making a decent living. After starting my career in sales and partnerships, I got jobs for a creative media platform and a creative agency. It was when I saw what the creatives were getting up to that the penny dropped – I wanted to be a creative!

How did you get your start in the industry?

As I got more experienced in my sales roles, I started getting involved in the creative aspects of the agency’s work. They were calling me in to help brainstorm pitch ideas and dream up creative strategies for brands. I was coming up with creative ideas to sell to prospects off my own bat. This was when I realised that I am a lot more creative than I previously thought and that I wanted to dedicate my career to it.

What are some of the most significant projects you’ve worked on?

Sometimes you work on a project which makes all the graft, sweat - and sometimes a few tears - worthwhile. That’s when you realise how satisfying a creative career is. In my case, this feeling hit when I was working with the whisky brand Chivas Regal. We developed a project to drive conversations about their long-form content series ‘The Rise.’ We partnered with some of the coolest cultural podcasters around and got them to discuss the big themes from the content series. This turned out to be a truly remarkable piece of work with incredible artists involved such as singer and rapper Stefflon Don. The campaign was a pioneering use of media because partnering with podcasters hadn't been done in this way before. The results were outstanding – our tracking showed that people had found out about the series from their favourite podcaster and then migrated to Chivas Regal's YouTube channel to engage with its content.

What do you find particularly interesting about advertising in the alcohol category?

I love the way that the best alcohol brands carve out their image and forge cultural allegiances over the long term – and then boldly stand up for the identity they’ve created. Chivas Regal is massively respected within rap culture and not only leverages this space but massively gives back to it. Havana Club is doing amazing things with African music and culture and is pushing the boundaries by putting money into supporting creative projects in this space. There seems to be a more concerted push to integrate fully with the culture of alcohol brands and this is what I love about them. 

Rahul Sonegra

Junior Designer 
Currently working on something for a whisky client

How and when did you realise you wanted to be a creative?

Because I was shy and introverted as a child, I spent a lot of time by myself drawing and colouring. There was a part of me that was intrinsically creative. At 14, I started a design page on Instagram called @razzledesigns, where I posted typographic quotes and aesthetically-designed posts (yes, the kind you always see on Pinterest and Tumblr!) It was the beginning of a newfound interest and creative expression, which ultimately led me to pursue an education and career in graphic design. Now as a junior designer at 23, I feel I’ve just scratched the surface! 

How did you get your start in the industry?

I had a book crit where I met one of our designers, Alice Kumagami, who I’m very honoured to now call my mentor! I landed my first-ever internship shortly after. My intention during my internship was to work hard and hone my craft, and I’m grateful to now be working with a talented group of creatives full-time who have shown me their unwavering support since my first day. Since stepping into the industry, I feel like I’ve been able to do more than I ever imagined for myself.

What are some of the most significant projects you’ve worked on?

My first client project was BetVictor for the 150th Open Championship, and I’m proud to have worked with our creative duo, Max and Jake, on more BetVictor projects, such as Snooker World Mixed Doubles. Another favourite is a campaign for Aviva, advertising the launch of their Aviva Experts. I felt my design direction was very much trusted during the entire process. I was able to work closely with our associate creative director, Laura Clark, who was in my initial interview. It was such a full-circle experience to have worked with her on this campaign. I learnt so much from being part of an ongoing campaign and seeing it unfold first hand.

What do you find particularly interesting about advertising in the alcohol category?

I find it interesting how it combines so many facets of advertising and design, such as artistry, strategy, and storytelling. I also think it’s important how we continue to use our platform to showcase alcohol in a way that promotes responsible drinking. We are currently working on an upcoming campaign for a whisky client, and I’m working with our talented senior creatives, Dan and Joe who have been very receptive to my design direction. I remember working on the pitch on the way to my graduation ceremony last year, and it’s amazing to see how close we are to bringing it to life!