Ballantine’s readies campaign to ‘build brand love’ with appointment of CPB to lead global creative

Ballantine’s has appointed Crispin Porter Bogusky (CPB) to its global creative account following a review that kicked off earlier this year.

Revealing the outcome of the three-way contest for the business at The Drum’s Pitch Perfect new business event yesterday (20 November), its head of brand communications Josh McCarthy said the work will look to improve awareness and “emotional connection” to the Pernod Ricard whisky.

“It’s the biggest Scotch whisky in Europe in terms of volume. It’s the 13th biggest international spirit. It’s a huge brand in 95 different markets,” he said. “But a common problem we have across the world is that people are aware of us but we don’t necessarily have love with the brand. We want to build our spontaneous awareness, build an emotional connection and just give ourselves a bit more personality.”

Discussing the pitch process – which was managed by The Drum Consulting – McCarthy said it took an unusual turn after whittling a long-list of 18 agencies down to six, which it went on to have chemistry meetings with, before settling on three finalist.

These three were briefed at the same time during an event hosted at a bar in East London which brought together all the key people from Pernod Ricard as well as the competing agencies.

“We wanted to take int into a bit more neutral ground. The way we work is not hierarchical, we work collaboratively and that’s the same way we work with our agency partners. We treat them as part of the team. So, the briefing process was no different,” he explained.

“In a big business like ours where you’re going to be forced to meet new people and be sent to different markets, you need to get on with people – if you can’t then maybe this isn’t the gig for you. And we made an effort to facilitate this in the pitch process – we had drinks and food and wanted to really meet people and see what they’re like in a real-life environment with no airs and graces.”

McCarthy said it ultimately led to the drink’s giant opting to progress with two agencies and, in another unusual move, it decided to put both pieces of work out to market research before picking the winning firm.

“We needed to involve the consumer, so we conducted a three-week piece of speedy research across each of our four markets. We spoke to 1600 people through a survey and what came back quickly was positivity about both pieces of work. It meant we knew we were getting strong work either way.”

The first campaign from CPB is set to launch in early 2020.

This article was originally published in The Drum.