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Dewar’s New Ad Campaign – Lesson Learned — Dramming
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Dewar’s New Ad Campaign – Lesson Learned

by Oliver Klimek on December 17, 2014

This blog is not normally a place to report about new advertising campaigns for whisky. But I’ll make an exception here because it marks the end of a development that might well be considered a textbook case study about PR failures.

Pretty exactly one year ago Dewar’s presented a new advertising video in their “The Drinking Man’s Scotch” campain. In “Meet the Baron”, a Glaswegian superhero saves the protagonist from several kinds of trouble including being subjected to advances of a plump lady in red. “Throwing himself on the explosives“, the Baron charmingly fends off the attack of the fat blonde to allow our friend to singlehandedly take on three svelte “Swedish bikini models” with the aid of Dewar’s White Label Blended Scotch Whisky. [Summary quoted from my original article]

After a immediate and massive outcry of whisky lovers feeling offended by the sexist ad, Dewar’s quickly decided to retract it. In April 2014 they also rebranded their product range.

This November now Dewar’s has launched an all new campaign named “Dewar’s Live True Profiles”. This series of clips features various people chatting with a bartender who have an interesting story to tell and are not quite “real” celebrities but have made some impact in their fields.

One of the videos features professional ice hockey player Hilary Knight telling about hockey and her charity work. This certainly is no coincidende, for two reasons. Firstly, what not all of you may know, the new ad campaign is actually a revival of the long-running “Dewar’s Profiles” campaign that was active from the 1970s to the 1990s. Among many other people this ad series featured female ice hockey pro Laura Stamm in 1978. 

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Featuring a woman an a male-dominated sport is a clear message that can only be seen as an active dismissal of the sexist philosophy behind the “Meet the Baron” clip which degrades sexually unattractive women to a threat. And doing so by quoting a 36 year old ad bears another message, or actually two: This ad in particular is timeless because the underlying issue is still relevant, and this campaign in general is timeless because its concept is so universal.

In the end, Dewar’s may come out of this public relations disaster stronger than they went in. The Baron ad created lot of buzz, and Dewar’s did exactly the right thing in reacting to it. They listend to the people and managed to convert the well-deserved criticism into positive energy to revert a decision that led them onto a wrong path.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Keith December 18, 2014 at 7:16 am

Actually in a world where men are not supposed to act like men and women are not supposed to act like women – meaning it seems society wants us not to strive for greatness but rather for emasculation and avoiding offending others – I quite liked the previous ad campaign. It may have offended those whose life goals are to avoid controversy and be content to toil in shadow but to those of us who enjoy the spice of life it’s kind of nice to have a little fun.

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Oliver Klimek December 18, 2014 at 7:57 am

I am by far not a fan of scrutinizing everyting if it is politically correct, but I disagree anyway. I for one don’t shy back from controversy at all but I cannot tolerate ads that endorse a skewed and outdated world view. I find your “spice of life” and “have a little fun” remarks rather shallow in this respect. Women continue to be reduced to their looks which in most cases is not fun at all.

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Keith December 18, 2014 at 5:45 pm

Hi, Oliver and thank you for your response! Certainly the ad is distasteful and vulgar. I think no one would disagree. I thought it was funny but recognize others do not. My concern about the ad though has less to do with does it elevate us to a higher level (clearly it does not) or is this a case of our mothers telling us we must behave as they want as they know better than we.

Here in the United States in the ’60’s and ’70’s our “betters” began a campaign against boys being boys and girls being girls. We were told as children (and had special videos made for us) that boys should not play with toy guns and play army because that made us violent and girls need not be restricted in playing only with dolls and so playing house and such must be discouraged. Needless to say in retrospect those “betters” had and have limited understanding into human nature and how the world works. The boys were discouraged from playing these games and yet found sticks and similar objects to use as guns and girls despite being discouraged continued to play house and used household items as dolls. Back then our “betters” decided they knew best how we should behave and run our lives and we must submit to them.

Back then, as now, there was an objective reality as to how the world works. There was back then, as now, human nature, and human nature has not changed. Those who wished to rule us I think had less insight as to human nature than the rest of us and yet despite this ignorance wanted to rule.

I think we see the same thing today. There are realities in this world and there are our “betters” who decide what we can and cannot think. I don’t want to get too political about this but I believe there is a publisher in Canada who was jailed for politically incorrect publication and we find interest groups in America, Canada, and worldwide who wish to curtail free speech and dominate. Our betters submit and wish us to submit but there are pockets of us who wish not to be ruled. One example – there are many but one example you may be sensitive to in Europe – is the Mohammed cartoons from a few years ago. I believe a newspaper or two published them in Europe and the result was death threats and murder. Consequently I believe the New York Times and other bastions of free speech chose not to publish anything even remotely related to them.

My fear is that we see there are parts of the human experience that are universal but by not allowing open discussion we lose freedom, freedom becomes an unusual thing, and we learn to be ruled by others. I think different countries have different personalities. The United States was founded in revolution from tyranny and independence and freedom and to a large extent we chafe when others try to rule us. Europe’s populations have a longer history of existence under a master and I think are more comfortable with less independence and freedom. When I read the blogs, this personality comes through.

As regards this ad in particular, I think – whether we like it or not – women are judged more on looks than are men. It may not be fair, but it is human nature. When seeking a mate I think women’s looks make up a larger part of the pie and ability to provide financially less so – and men’s ability to provide make up a larger part of the pie as well as the converse. It may not be fair but I think this has not changed much over the centuries.

Anyway, that’s my two cents. I hope you are well and we live in a fair and just society with freedom for all and not just for the lucky soon!

Keith

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Cigar Inspector December 29, 2014 at 11:05 pm

An interesting case study, and a smart move by Dewar.

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Tyler Kent January 5, 2015 at 9:45 pm

The new ad does a great job selling ice hockey as a sport for athletic women, but does nothing to entice me to drink Dewars. In fact, the ad might incline some to believe that Dewars is a drink designed for women. I am still mystified as to why the earlier ad is called “sexist” because it features men preferring attractive women to unattractive ones. Surely even women prefer attractive men to unattractive men. It isn’t so much “sexism” as it is reality. Deny it if you like; but human nature will remain unchanged.

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Bob January 13, 2015 at 4:30 am

What Tyler said.

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