In the last few years, gin has become cooler than ever before – and the market has exploded. But even in this new era of gin drinking, the historically colonial spirit has retained an air of snobbery. “The messaging is often about botanicals or pairings and it can be a little inaccessible to a lot of people,” says Robynne Rowlinson-Bisset, strategy director at VMLY&R, where she is account lead for Stretton’s.
In this crowded market, Robynne and her team were tasked with positioning Stretton’s London Dry Gin, a relatively unknown player, in a way that would make it stand out from the clutter. The result is a brand identity that flips the script on where gin fits into the beverage market.
Easy Going and Accessible to All
While gin marketing typically tends to focus on exclusivity, Stretton’s London Dry Gin proudly proclaims that it “goes with anything”.
“That’s from both an intrinsic (mixability) and extrinsic (it’s inclusive and easy going) perspective,” explains Robynne. “If you’re having Stretton’s with Appletizer or lemonade, that’s fine. Whoever you are and whoever you’re with, come and be part of this simply unexpected, carefree lifestyle.”
Stretton’s retains the sophistication inherently associated with gin – but removes the perception that it is the domain of a privileged few. “The idea is not to appeal to the classic gin target audience – we want to make it much broader and make gin accessible to a lot more people,” says creative director Ana Rocha.
Spontaneous and Carefree
The Stretton’s London Dry Gin drinker is not a party animal. This is a drink to enjoy with friends over long, lazy summer afternoons – the kind where you end up throwing together a braai with whatever’s in the fridge and laughing until late into the night.
“At the time of this campaign launching, people had had a really tough year. We couldn’t ignore what was going on in the world of South Africans in general,” notes Robynne. “So we wanted to champion the idea of feeling spontaneous. We decided to use the brand’s purpose of ‘simply unexpected’ as the campaign line too. It’s about embracing a carefree spirit – allowing people to just go with the flow and have fun because we haven’t been able to do that.”
Official Drink of Summer
In creating a visual identity for the campaign, the team was inspired by summer. “It’s fresh, summery, bold, impactful and in-your-face,” says Ana. “And we make sure it doesn’t feel like the expected ‘summer visual cues’ that so many other brands use.”
This can be seen coming through in the TVCs and in murals and other branding that has been rolled out in taverns across the country – particularly in KZN and the Eastern Cape. The summer season has also seen activations boosting the festivity.
Lauren Justus, portfolio head says: ‘’What a fun time to be a part of the gin craze with a brand like Stretton’s! And even more fun to have worked with our great new team at VMLY&R on refreshing the Stretton’s positioning. If there was ever a time I felt sure that our range of delicious gin was ready to take on the world, it is now!”