Tuesday, February 26, 2008

From BornRich:

Bombay Sapphire has created Revelation - a handmade crystal bottle adorned with extravagant gems and diamonds. The limited edition bottle was designed by Garrard, Baccarat and Karim Rashid. Representing the 10 botanical ingredients of Bombay Sapphire, the bottle features a huge gemstone with 10 principal facets. The handmade crystal bottle is the first in a set of five to be launched at five major international airports (London Heathrow, New York, Dubai, Singapore and Sydney). All the bottles will be finished with sapphires and diamonds and would set you back $200,000 each.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A sweet little viral video by Saatchi & Saatchi for Carlsberg.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

This badge first popped up on Etsy and has since emerged on NotCot and Boing Boing. Not surprisingly it has sold out.

If only I had decided to use my philosophy degree more profitably by making badges. For more background on the liar paradox have a look on Wikipedia.

It shows that creative ideas can take any form and often can make money in their own right. Self funding creative ideas. Now there's an idea.

From Ad Week

"Not so long ago it was all about its iconic bottle. In Absolut vodka's new campaign breaking this week, however, fruit will take center stage.

Dubbed "Streams," the new TV and print campaign, from TBWA\Chiat\Day, New York, plays up the all-natural ingredients in the Swedish brand's nine flavored vodkas. In he ads, colorful streams flow by pears, mandarin oranges, peaches, lemons and other featured fruits. Tagline: "True Taste Comes Naturally."

"The campaign is designed to showcase the real fruit flavor inherent in all of our flavored vodkas," said Ian Crystal, brand director, in a statement. "We've noticed that the cocktail community has followed our lead by trending towards the use of fresh ingredients as well, and Absolut represents what flavored vodka is supposed to be."

The print campaign breaks this week. The TV spots begin airing March 10 on FX, E!, Spike, A&E, Comedy Central and Logo. An international version of the campaign, dubbed "Dissection," launches in the spring with TV and in-cinema spots appearing in Germany, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

"With the launch of 'Streams' and 'Dissection,' our creative goal was to differentiate the brand further from the competition," said Rob Smiley, group creative director at TBWA\Chiat\Day, in a statement. "The creative is visually striking and bold, emphasizing the truly natural ingredients consumers can expect when drinking Absolut, and clarifying the rational benefits [to the consumer]."

Campaign spending was not revealed. In 2006, Absolut spent $25 million on measured media in the U.S. and $20 million through November 2007, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

The brand is currently up for sale, to the reported tune of more than $6 billion. Bacardi, Fortune Brands and Bacardi are among those vying for the prize. Diageo had also been in the running, but dropped out late last week, when it purchased Ketel One for $900 million."

All natural.

The Beam Team garden is coming along leaps and bounds despite a major set back last week when our chile plants were savagely "weeded"!!! Disaster! The culprit has more than made amends however by introducing an ornamental tomato plant to the garden.

We planted them about a month ago. About 2 weeks ago the progres was encouraging as you can see here.

Here's how the chile plants are progresssing:

And we have also started growing cress at an alarming rate.

And our ornamental tomato plants courtesy of the "weeder" is doing very nicely too.

Stay tuned to see how our garden is growing!

Friday, February 15, 2008

So cool. And fits in with the R8 work as well.

Engineering. Craftsmanship. Quality.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

ING's foray into Second Life has come to a close because of the fact that they are pumping their marketing dollars into their merger. For me it signals an end to all the hype and hysteria about Second Life. There is definitely a role for virtual worlds as a way of getting people together digitally and building communities of creative people who like a bit of escapism. But as an advertising channel it was never going to deliver.

ING's email explaining the end of the project is also interesting as it shows how to wrap things up. All too often engaging intitiatives just get pulled and no one hears anything about it.

"After a year of pioneering, learning and innovating ING Retail Netherlands has decided to close down the Our Virtual Holland activities in Second Life.
The main reason is the current merger of the ING bank Netherlands and the Postbank. The focus of our activities will be directed to the merger.

Virtual Worlds continue to be an interesting and for ING relevant development. Virtual worlds as a communication platform as well as virtual economies are important developments for a financial institution like ING. ING Asia Pacific will keep the presence in Second Life with their 'Cha Lounge' on our own ING island. In this way the knowledge about virtual worlds inside ING is not lost and we are ready to make a quick restart in the future.

We have learned a lot this past year and it was a pleasure to facilitate the Our Virtual Holland community. 50 % of Our Virtual Holland partners will continue their activities in Second Life. We are happy to tell you that community member willl take over part of the OVH community activities. The name of the community island will be changed to Virtual Holland. We wish the Virtual Holland community good luck.
We aim to finish our activities in Second Life by the first of March. At the Our Virtual Holland site you will find updates on the activities of ING Asia Pacific in Second Life and about the partners and community members.

Kind regards,

Gertjan Kaaij (Gavin Market) and the Our Virtual Holland team"

I don't bank with ING. But this email and their foray into Second Life has made me warm to them. It makes me think that they are innovative, forward thinking and are something I'd like to be part of. As opposed to Barclays who can't even manage to send me a cheque book. It's not like I've asked for one 4 times!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

From the ever brilliant PSFK:

"Creative Review points to a project Mike Figgis is running for the London Underground where he is trialing different graphic designs to “improve behaviour”. From 14 Feb 13, London Underground will test different markings on Jubilee line platforms to see which ones encourage riders to stand aside rather than duck in to get that single free seat before the pregnant woman does. The London Underground says:

"The key objective [of the exercise is] to assess the influence of the markings on passenger behaviour and its impact on cutting delays."

If it all goes well it will show the power of good design and the power it has to make a real impact on society. I really hope it works and the tube becomes a more civilised place.

For more pictures and banter see the Creative Review blog:

Monday, February 11, 2008

by Trey Shelton in Trends In The US, Food & Drink

A new drink is rising up in the bars of LA, Tequila Espresso. Served over ice and in a rocks glass, it’s an interesting alternative for anyone looking for the simultaneous caffeine and alcohol buzz. As for the origins of the drink, the farthest back we can trace it is to a rather mischievous bartender at the Chateau Marmont, where many a great thing has begun and ended.

Directions are simple: Pour your choice of tequila over ice, pull a fresh espresso, and pour the espresso into the glass.

The drink often creates a polarizing love/hate reaction depending on your passion for the ingredients. Word of caution: drinking more than 2 of these is probably not a great idea if you plan on getting any sleep that evening. Patron has even come out with an espresso flavored Tequila as well.

From Slashfood:

"You've probably seen those Burger King commercials where hidden cameras capture the reactions of customers who are told that they've discontinued the Whopper. Some folks get mildly irritated while a few people go ballistic. They're probably lucky someone didn't go over the edge and injure someone because of it. My favorite is the woman in the car who tells the person taking drive-thru orders that she wants to talk to the manager. As if he would have any say in what corporate decides will be discontinued.

But the ads have worked. The sales of Whoppers increased by a double digit percentage. It's not the only hoax BK pulled on customers. Another day the Burger King locations (in Las Vegas) said they didn't have Whoppers but gave the customers McDonald's and Wendy's burgers instead.

Customers didn't like that, but I wonder how many customers actually didn't get upset?"

Here's part of the article from WSJ

"Burger King, which began running the TV ads Dec. 9, credits the campaign for helping boost Whopper sales in the quarter that ended in December by a double-digit percentage. It "drove significant brand relevance and incremental sales," executives said on an earnings conference call last week.

The videotaped hoax was a twist on a market research technique called "deprivation research," in which marketers measure how loyal consumers are to a brand or product by taking it away from them. The insight gained helps marketers design new marketing and ad ploys that will resonate better with consumers."

This video will explain it better than a few quotes ever could.

What's brilliant is the way that it has self selected Burger King's outraged fans and made them into super charged brand advocates with their vociferous passion for the Whopper spread all over YouTube. It's also positioned the Whopper as America's favourite burger - just what it set out to achieve.

Hoopla. Well done CP&B.

Friday, February 08, 2008

I love this and am going to try to find a pot. As ever great stuff from Marmite. A good build on their Guinness collaboration last year.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

I first wrote about Stormhoek in September 2006, so we are long overdue a catch up!

The Stormhoek story is fascinating and full of depth. The more you look into it the richer it gets, just like the guys who own the brand!

Is there scope to come up with a viral way of getting people to understand the complexities of the taste of cognac?


From Ian Buxton's Whisky Rumour Mill pointing out the excess of some so called Luxury marketing:

"I shuffled to my desk with the heavy sigh of last night's hangover as the invigilator, evidently a teetotaller, eyed me suspiciously.

Yes, it's end of term exam time here at Rumour Mill Towers and I wondered darkly what the Grand Inquisitor (aka the Editor) would have in store. Turning over the paper I observed at once that there was only one question though, terse to a point, he'd omitted to note that it was compulsory.

"Compare and contrast the Ardbeg Double Barrel and The Macallan Linley Cabinet as alternative approaches to luxury brand marketing."

Well, dear reader, whatever do you make of that?

Unlike most of the whiz kids who constitute what the whisky industry is pleased to call its marketing experts, I'm old enough to have lived through the last nasty recession and I seem to remember that, just before we nose-dived into several years of non-stop sales, plunging house prices and mass wailing and renting of garments, there was any amount of froth on the top of the economy. There was, I recall, an investment fund that sold you "units" in a portfolio of classic sports cars and other similar nonsense.

So, being a bit of a Jeremiah, I tend to worry when I see things getting 'bubbly'. "Irrational exuberance" a financial commentator much wiser than me once called it. (Alan Greenspan, actually, at the Francis Boyer Lecture of The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, Washington, D.C. on December 5, 1996).

Could the same be happening to whisky, just as a tsunami of sub-prime debt threatens to overwhelm the global banking system? Well, let's look at exhibit A, Ardbeg Double Barrel.

For those who don't know it, a brief description. Ardbeg Double Barrel is a limited edition release of two bottles of Ardbeg 1974 ("hand-blown bottles" naturally, a stylish touch for connoisseurs of these matters), packaged with eight sterling silver drinking cups, two nice tasting notebooks, a pen ("bespoke...crafted out of mature oak and engraved with the Ardbeg zoomorphic knot design" - that's a posh way of saying there's a picture of some animals on it), the whole packaged in a replica gun case, such as a chap might use for his 12 bore shotgun.

There are 250 of these creations, for which Selfridges of London are asking a cool £10,000. If you like that kind of thing, it's undeniably handsome. All the elements are the best of their kind: noted silversmiths Hamilton & Inches of Edinburgh made the silver cups; the gun case is by the same folks who supply Purdey; the little notebooks are hand-stitched and the pen is an Omas no less (like Ardbeg, an LVMH company).

But still - £10,000? I decided to be awkward and deconstruct the whole thing.

At this level gun cases are bespoke (you knew that of course) but Holland & Holland will sell you a very similar cartridge case in oak and leather for £1,850. A 12 bore gun case is a little bigger - we'll call it £2,500.

Hamilton & Inches make all kinds of lovely things, but looking in their current catalogue a silver 'tumble cup' is £300 and they do very pretty little dramming cups in the form of a thistle for around £200. So I'm going to put the Ardbeg beakers in at another £2,500. All these are the full retail prices, by the way, with Alistair Darling's 17.5% VAT on top.

The pen is trickier. Omas do a wide range of editions. Let's take the limited edition Krug as an example, which retails at around £500. Allow a bit of exclusivity for the Ardbeg version and call it £750. (If you've never looked, you'd be surprised what folks will pay for a fountain pen when they're feeling exuberant.)

You can get very nice little leather manuscript books from Smythson for £115 a pop, so I've priced the two Ardbeg tasting note books at £250. That leaves us with the whisky.

Bit of a problem. By rights, it should be "worth" £2,000 a bottle to get to £10,000. But that was last year's price for Ardbeg 1965 in its museum case. Right now, the oldest Ardbeg you can buy (off the distillery's own website) is a limited edition single cask from 1975 at £399, including shipping. Admittedly there are 522 of these babies compared to the 250 bottles of 1974 in the Double Barrel but still it's a big step up from 1975 at £399 to a year older at £2,000.

Could the Double Barrel's pricing be a trifle, how shall we put this?, ambitious? We'll park that question for a moment and consider what this is all about and how it fits into Ardbeg's image.

Who exactly is going to buy the Double Barrel? Whisky aficionados are, presumably, as capable as we are of doing the arithmetic and comparing the price of bottles so it seems unlikely they'll make up a large part of the buying population. Rich people, in our limited experience of the breed, didn't get and certainly don't stay rich by spending £10,000 on £7,500-worth of stuff so that rules them out and anyone with a shotgun requiring a lavish carrying case has almost certainly already got one. So at the risk of boring you all to death, who is this for?

Turning to The Macallan Linley Cabinet we see an alternative, but equally elevated approach. This is a one-off - a custom-built 'one of a kind' drinks cabinet by Viscount Linley's workshop complete with six single malt vintages from The Macallan's Fine & Rare collection: 1937, 1940, 1948, 1955, 1966 and 1970.

Handcrafted from English Oak and Burr Oak, the drinks cabinet also includes six bespoke crystal Linley whisky tumblers, cigar humidor and the secret compartment which has become a signature feature of Linley furniture. If you're interested it might still be on sale in Harrods though no need to hurry - it didn't fly off the shelf (at a cool £55,000) during their World of Whisky and Watches evening. However, as the Macallan PR coyly put it "it has generated considerable interest". Mind you, I'm considerably interested in the Ferrari 430 but it doesn't mean I'm going to buy one.

Still, the whisky here must make up a healthy part of the price, though The Macallan wouldn't be drawn on this when we contacted them. However, back in 2002, Macallan themselves priced these vintages at £11,400 and prices have risen significantly since then. We wouldn't be surprised at a price tag of around £25,000 which means you're paying £30,000 for a unique Linley drinks cabinet with glasses, built-in humidor and not forgetting the secret compartment. There might, just, be an argument for that, though here at Rumour Mill Towers Ikea is more the decorative style.

At least a drinks cabinet has got something to do with single malt whisky, which is another problem with the posh person's party bag that makes up the Double Barrel.

So, there we are - two contrasting approaches to luxury marketing. Of course, if you're interested in whisky (perish the thought) you could just pop in to Glenfarclas and snap up one of their superb Family Casks collection for £14,500. That's an average of £337.20 a bottle for quite outstanding whisky dating back to 1952. No fancy packaging, no pens, no notebooks, no secret compartments, no crystal tumblers or silver drinking cups - just whisky. Just fancy that. I know what I'd like for Christmas.

A Ferrari 430 actually, since you ask.

Now, since it's Christmas, you're getting some bonus extra rumours this time.

1. Probably the most exciting news out there is the impending sale of Highland Distiller's long-silent Glenglassaugh Distillery. It's been mothballed these last twenty years and one presumed would never re-open. However, our moles tell us that a Russian-backed consortium has money in place and, pending some legal formalities, the deal is done. Look out for an announcement early in 2008.

2. Michael Collings' new offering Imperial Tribute (a limited edition blended malt, with more than a passing resemblance to Chivas Regal) seems to have been stalled somewhere, with an apologetic email balanced perilously between the twee and the tragic suggesting as an excuse for the non-

appearance of the website that "all the IT elves have been diverted to Mr S Klaus. Being a long established customer he has had priority." Mmm.

3. We're probably all in favour of the rebuilding of the old Islay Hotel in Port Ellen. Over the years the derelict building has turned into an eyesore that's all the more unfortunate for being virtually the first thing visitors arriving by ferry will see. The news that it's been demolished and is being rebuilt is very welcome. Two cheers for local accountant chappie Roland Worthington-Eyre (you can tell he's a local by the distinctive Ileach moniker) - but no cheers at all for his "innovative" financing scheme.

This involves taking £25 off you for a lottery ticket in which you're asked to guess where a whisky barrel dropped on a parachute from a plane flying off Port Ellen will end up after bobbing around for 5 minutes in the briny. You couldn't make it up, though evidently someone did. Roland hopes to sell 60,000 tickets, against a prize fund promising around £650,000. Or to put it another way, he plans to trouser a cool £850 grand. That should buy a few bricks.

Moreover, it looks very much as if the best possible complexion has been out on the prize fund. First prize is a building plot "worth" £150,000, "plus £100,000 in cash towards the building costs of the home of your dreams..." Well, take it from us, £100k isn't going to look at the building of the home of anybody's dream, let alone on Islay with its attendant additional costs.

Then, there's the 2nd prize - accommodation at the new Islay Hotel! We emailed the promoters 3 weeks ago requesting further information but curiously have had no response.

A neat marketing scheme, then, but like the barrel probably destined for Davy Jones' Locker!"

There's a bid difference between superficial luxury products and really well crafted high quality goods.

From The Coolhunter:

"It's not easy these days to create a point-of-sale display that truly stands out in the hectic visual environment of an average busy department store, yet alone one for Selfridges in London.

Manchester based True North were given the task to create a 'can't miss it' bespoke display system for Adidas Originals within the Offspring concession at the Oxford Street store.

Taking inspiration from the product itself where an Adidas shoebox becomes a table and the shoebox lid, a chair, they have created a display and "trying on" area where customers can fully immerse themselves in the brand. Launching this week, we suspect these will be the hottest chairs in London. By Brendan McKnight"

I really want those tables and chairs for my house!

From The Coolhunter:

"The beds have been made, the concierge desk polished and the piano in the lobby has been tuned. On its tour around America, the Stoli Hotel has set up shop in Miami where it will host a variety of invite only music, fashion and sport events over the next two and a half weeks.

Designed by creative architecture agency Pompei A.D, the 10,000 square foot hotel-themed space is inspired by the iconic Hotel Moskva which features on Stolichnaya's labels.

"Each facet of the hotel has been carefully selected to incorporate Stolichnaya's authentic heritage, while drawing upon the modern day qualities that top metropolitan hotels possess" says Adam Rosen, Senior Brand Manager of Stolichnaya vodka.

"Guests can browse (but not sleep in) rooms designed around Stoli blends, enjoy Stoli cocktails and indulge in manicures, facials, scalp treatments and chair massages.

You are, however, going to need to be wearing some serious bling if you want to enter the elit suite. Paying homage to Stoli's high-end range, it is only open to celebrities and VIP's.

Heading over to New York next, the Stoli Hotel adds yet another milestone to Stolichnaya's unique history of innovation and championing all things Russian. By Brendan McKnight."

Great bit of brand behavoiur that is interesting, PR able and fits in well with Stoli's Russian heritage. But wouldn't it have been better if you could actually sleep in the hotel... and the website feels just like playing Command and Conquer in 1995. I like the Progagandist look and feel.


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