From the Cask to Your Lips; How Social Media is Stirring the Still

MeganOutLOUD    June 24, 2014

Seen above; a Youtube video released to subscribers and social media followers to promote an upcoming expedition and release of a cask that was stilled in honour of the Highland Park founder; Magnus Eunson

Case Study:  The Edrington Group

Industry: Wine and Spirits

Raise a dram to the innovative and proudly Scottish global enterprise; the Edrington Group. Makers and custodians of the finest and most beloved whisky and spirit brands throughout their motherland; they infuse each of their several native brands with the rebellious spirit and passion for craftsmanship that was seen in many of the men who risked ruin to bring “uisge beatha” (Scottish Gaelic meaning “lively water”) out from the darkness and into the hands of the nation that would master it for centuries to come.

 Antique-Painting-of-Still-TopAn Scottish painting of the early art of distilling “lively water”

In line with the company values,”Independence and Innovation”; the following case study will demonstrate how the company has achieved unprecedented success in recent years, primarily due to it’s decision to undergo a complete distribution restructuring (announced around this time last year) which kicked off a series of acquisitions and expansions

The following examples; demonstrate how Edrington aims to facilitate the health and prosperity of it’s many luxury spirits and their branding identities through the adoption and execution of a comprehensive and holistic social media strategy centred on determining each brand’s key influencers, reaching the various “types” of influencers at the appropriate times driving the appropriate vehicles and the way in which each of these types has and will continue to define the overall messaging and content used to ultimately reach the goals and objectives of both the enterprise and the individual brands.

From Cutty Cargo Event Promotion, see below for details

Branding Ambassadors

Each brand has a comprehensive Ambassador program in which the individual brands hire people  who can demonstrate an already in depth knowledge and love for whisky and the brand in question combined with an in depth knowledge of the market in which the brand hopes to infiltrate. This proved vital to the success of the various brands being introduced to the newly emerging markets in Asia, Africa, the Nordics and most recently, the United States.

Common threads shown throughout each Brand Ambassador program include

•Ambassadors must have a strong social media following or proven ability to build one

•Proven ability to articulate their understanding of various products when hosting exclusive “tastings”which take place worldwide but always in a location that is strategically aligned with Edrington’s overall goals and objectives.

•Incentive to attract the most influential of candidates is the offered full time salary and the slew of endless perks to representing one of the most respected whisky or spirit brands in the world


Seen above is Patsi Christie, recently hired as a Macallan Global Ambassador to the Middle East (Photo taken from the following article completed by the Sudbury Star

What to take away: the brand ambassador program highlights the importance of contacting and developing strong and meaningful relationships with influential consumers. The program is a literal reflection of each of the brand’s current target market demographics and is often a clear indication of the areas where the company plans to or has already managed to expand.

Exclusive Tastings

Type of consumer engaged:Lead Users

•seen throughout the strategic planning for every one of Edrington’s many brands is the use of in-person interactions with influential consumers; bloggers, media and professionals

•social influencers are contacted directly and include bloggers, people with quality social media following, the media and any other market deemed important to the promotion of the relative brand

•Tastings are done frequently across varios geo-locations and are used for a variety of purposes such as; to determine emerging markets, test new products pre-launch, test packaging or ideation, to sway specific targets into active consumers

The above video demonstrates both a tasting and an attempt to hit the influential 20-30 demographic found in major metropolises from across the board. The fact that it was geolocated near new emerging market sources was just a fluke…

What to take away: Do not underestimate the power of the blogger! Blogger influence is not a passing fad; with more and more people relying on the Internet to source information on topics of interest; Bloggers have become the new “journalist” in the context of branding and media relations, so get on the Internet and take the time to learn who is talking about your Industry/product/company


 Email Subscriptions and Exclusive Communities

•Primarily channeled through the brand’s individual microsite; consumers who take the initiative to “sign up” for an email subscription or to become a “member” of exclusive societies and memberships

•Perks include special offers, exclusive access to new products pre-market, opportunity to particpate in market defining surveys and for a select few; opportunity for an invite to the more exclusive events as described above









The Snow Leopard Vodka brand asks for Ambassadors over their website and social media outlets. This decision was likely made because they don’t understand the vodka market quite yet and are in the early stages of market analysis and it’s effect on particular brands.

 What to take away: Whilst email subscription, contest participation and the more recent use of customized apps may not be a new concept to many; it’s an often underestimated and underutilized tool that on average is used to capture only the most basic pieces of information about their web users and target markets. It then becomes an often missed opportunity for many brand managers and an undervalued tool to business owners. Many strategists will warn that complex and lenghty sign up processes will result in abandoned forms, incomplete results and the worst case scenerio; will result in a negative impression left on potential leads. Where this can be true; through the use of creative and strategically placed questions within the signup forms or throughout the actual user experience; this strategic technique has proven invaluable in the collection of vital information needed to assess and determine who your brand’s biggest influencers are, what they respond to and how to effectively reach them in an ongoing basis.


Type of consumer engaged: Consumer Driven Innovators

Active Social Media Profiles

•It’s not by accident that each of Edrington’s premium brands has an active online presence including profiles on social media heavy weights like Facebook and Twitter

•Depending on the individual brand, other social media channels associated with specific groups are being used to actively engage in those specific markets

•Each brand uses these channels to further the key messages being delivered via their individual microsites and corporate blogs, as a way to further profile target markets and key social influencers, promote upcoming events, launch campaigns, add to market research, develop a tone for their brand based on the writing style used in posts

•Consumers are also capable of providing feedback solicited or not, in real time; affecting the ways in which the enterprise and individual brand respond to followers

 What you can take away: Being prepared for a social media presence means being prepared to act according to the newly developed consumer expectations which include transparency, high levels of interaction and consumer driven content. Don’t expect to ignore ill-received messages or consumer complaints; as a best practice; every follower interaction should be met with a strategic and effective re-action

Seen below is an example of how followers reacted to a picture that was posted to Highland Park Whisky’s Twitter capturing the recently run video campaign launching the third of four specially Valhalla inspired videos which are about the entity’s that invoke them.

Twitter   HighlandPark  The three Gods of Valhalla ...

Ultimately the results of Edrinton’s efforts as well as the overall impact that the individual brands and their marketing strategies will have, cannot be assessed for some time now, however; if the level of growth and acceptance within the emerging markets is any indicator, the adoption of social influencer theories and the resulting social marketing strategies will likely see an increase over the next few years. With that in mind; consider the Edrington Group and it’s associated brands “ones to watch” when it comes to setting industry standards and precedent for the increasingly popular trend.

All About Whisky and Luxury Spirits! Resources and Interest Pieces

Highland Park

The Macallan

Brugal (Rum, distilled in Dominican Republic)

Cutty Sark

Snow Leopard

The Famous Grouse

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Submitted By: Megan Clark of The Social Chemists

Created for the SMBP

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Peter Carr, Programme Director, Social Media for Business Performance.