Ian Macleod Distillers is a leading Scottish distiller; an independent business that creates some of the best-known whisky, gin and vodka brands in the UK. The family-run business is behind the likes of Glengoyne, Tamdhu, Edinburgh Gin and Smokehead, to name a few, and is also the UK distributor for Atlantico Rum. We were introduced to their national account manager, responsible for building the profile of each of the key brands and securing new stockists across the Midlands, and were brought on board to support with regional food and drink PR and marketing.
Having already built a solid customer base in Scotland, Ian Macleod Distillers was keen to reach new heights and put its key spirits on the map in the Midlands. Working closely with the national account manager, our role was to support in food and drink PR; driving localised media coverage; building relationships with key journalists, bloggers and influencers; promoting exciting events; and creating a wealth of new opportunities for the brand.
Food and drink PR is very much our bag at EAST VILLAGE., with clients over the years including Living For The Weekend – the creators of Birmingham Cocktail Weekend, Birmingham Wine Weekend, and Birmingham Restaurant Festival – and Midlands Whisky Festival, to name a few. So we were confident that we could draw on our existing knowledge of the food and drink PR to give Ian Macleod Distillers a new platform to build a strong customer base across the region.
Ian Macleod Distillers was keen to capitalise on its recent success by builing a strong reputation across the region, focused first on Birmingham and the West Midlands, and then expanding across the East Midlands. The brief was to secure new listings in bars and restaurants, connect with key retailers to become stockists, and also entice new customers to start drinking their much-loved brands.
Stage one was to work alongside the account manager to understand her sales strategy and create a complementary food and drink PR and marketing plan that looked at regional media coverage, influencer engagement, hosted events, potential partnerships, and collaborations. We delivered this plan in both 2018 and 2019, breaking activity down for the overall Ian Macleod Distillers brand and then each individual product line.
Keen to create relationships with local journalists and secure press coverage, we went to our Little Black Book of existing contacts with a host of news stories to whet their appetite. We hosted them at brand events and even organised a distillery visit to Scotland.
Likewise, to support the retailer and on-trade activity, we also helped deliver a number of exciting tastings and events that opened the door to new opportunities for the brands. From on-the-ground event management to digital marketing activity to put the brand in front of new audiences, this helped support the extensive sales strategy across the Ian Macleod Distillers range.
Added to this, we also looked at the EAST VILLAGE. client list to secure partnerships and collaboration opportunities to really give Ian Macleod Distillers a regional foothold.
Our aim was to introduce Ian Macleod Distillers to the region and shine a light on its products through a diverse range of events targeting gin-lovers and whisky drinkers alike. We worked closely with the account manager to deliver impactful food and drink PR; securing extensive press coverage, organising and hosting a multitude of events, and expanding the reach of each brand to the general public.
Reviews from events, alongside general coverage across the board on product pages and event promotion, gained a total coverage of over 1.5 million in publications including Birmingham Post, What’s On Live, Style Birmingham, Birmingham Living, Midlands Business News and Shropshire Star, to name a few. We also created strong relationships with key food and drink journalists and bloggers, including Paul Fulford, Bite Your Brum, Winepress Girl and The Ting Thing.
The brand had set its sights on hosting events in the city, and, as a team of gin-lovers and partygoers, we had plenty of ideas to help get bums on seats and relevant people engaging with the products. We were keen to help raise the bar beyond the traditional ‘cocktail masterclasses’, and reinvigorate excitement for regional press, websites and bloggers. This included brand-hosted events like Gin Labs at Birmingham Cocktail Weekend, a Burns Night dinner at Hotel du Vin, Gin Dinner at Moor Hall Hotel, and an Edinburgh Gin afternoon tea at Harvey Nichols. We also supported with trade events like the Glengoyne Whisky and Hunters & Frankau tasting event; which helped secure two new stockists for the whisky brand, and was also developed into a public tasting during Midlands Whisky Festival.
With collaborations being key, our approach to their food and drink PR also saw a host of partnerships for Ian Macleod Distillers, including a competition with blow LTD that had over 26,000 entries and sponsorship of Birmingham Comedy Festival and store launches for The Wedding Club’s flagship new boutique in the Mailbox, Glimpse Opticians store opening in Great Western Arcade and the brand new EF MEDISPA in Edgbaston. Edinburgh Gin also became headline sponsor for the city’s biggest cocktail event: Birmingham Cocktail Weekend, which welcomed around 5,000 visitors.