Thursday, 20 August 2015

Rum Is A Lifestyle Choice

Here’s an intriguing print piece that turned up in the London Metro on a Wednesday morning last month.

At first glance it looks like a foodie ad, a lifestyle piece; something you’d see from Sainsbury’s or Waitrose. Chopping board, fresh fruit, countertop – summertime family meal vibes. Unvarnished, genuine, simple imagery.

Except there’s also a bottle of Havana Club rum.

Suddenly the soft focus style has a little more edge to it.

(I mean don’t get me wrong, we’ve all been there. Bring just one bottle of vodka to a family barbecue and suddenly you’re the “crazy uncle”, who “shouldn’t throw up in front of the kids”. Whatever that means.)

It’s an interesting sight to see, and an interesting approach to drinks advertising. It feels less party time on the beach so much as slice-of-life domesticity. The tagline?

“You just know when it’s from the heart.”

Which sounds like it could easily have been a John Lewis Christmas campaign.

And there’s nothing wrong with that by any means. It’s just an unusual turn of phrase for hard spirits.

But the line, together with the imagery, conjures up such a different vision of rum. Not pirates and partying, but chilled out good times. It’s a strangely aspirational proposition, in comparison to the usual glamour-based pitch for upmarket spirits.

Havana Club is a premium brand – and with an ad in the Metro, you’re obviously gunning for an urban and suburban demographic, who trend towards the wealthier end of the spectrum themselves. So even with the unusual twist in style, the marketing direction taken is sound.

You could argue that there’s something inappropriate about selling rum as a family-friendly product, in a major newspaper, early in the morning. But this is clearly not a stealth pitch to the young and impressionable. It’s just capturing the imagination, playing with expectations in a gentle way – and remodelling rum as a soft, relaxed product at the same time.

So well done Havana Club, for surprising me with an early morning pitch for rum.

(And for making me really want a mojito now.)

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