The Macallan brand of whisky was established in Scotland in 1824. But for a very old company, the brand has been actively using the latest tech innovations to connect with a millennial audience.
The Macallan launched a 360-degree video marketing campaign last fall in tandem with a Facebook Messenger chat bot initiative. And the company just launched a touchable video program to market its $3,000 “The Macallan Masters of Photography: Steven Klein Edition.”
Charlie Whitfield, director of fine and rare whiskies at The Macallan, told AListDaily that the traditional image of old men drinking whisky in a private club in between puffs of fine cigars isn’t what the brand is after today.
“At The Macallan we want to reach out to new consumers, and new technology is a way to do that,” he said.
Whitfield explained that the brand’s demographic is younger than you might think.
“We’re seeing a lot more millennials, young whisky consumers in their mid-to-late 20s and 30s,” Whitfield said. “We’re also seeing more women. When I moved to the US six years ago, it went from 80-to-20 to 60-to-40 male to female drinkers today. Females have better noses than males, so it’s great for the industry.”
Whitfield said his brand is also attracting more multicultural consumers in the US, especially Asian and Latin drinkers.
It’s with this in mind that the brand has utilized new technology and social outreach to connect with existing and potentially new consumers.
“We created a 360-degree VR video taking consumers from the forests of the US to Spain and to Scotland to witness the creation of Double Cask through the journey of the wood, from acorn to cask to bottle,” Whitfield explained.
The company held a press event last fall with Google Cardboards and then shared the video across digital channels, including YouTube 360 and the Double Cask website. It’s still used as a tool for continued education with influencers and media.
In September, The Macallan created a Facebook Messenger chat bot that Whitfield said is “on call” 24 hours a day/seven days a week to engage with consumers who are looking to learn more about whisky, The Macallan brand and to get some advice on how to pick the proper whisky.
It was the first whisky brand to jump into the chat bot fray, according to Whitfield, who added that the chat bot not only helps teach consumers about The Macallan, but about whisky in general.
“This was created as an educational platform where we’re giving people the knowledge to be able to talk about whisky and bourbon with more knowledge,” Whitfield said. “It’s a teaching tool, not just a driver of sales.”
One thing users will learn is that the Scottish spell whisky without the “e” while the Irish spell it whiskey.
The Macallan worked with its agency to create a “touchable video” to promote its high-end, extremely limited $3,000 “The Macallan Masters of Photography: Steven Klein Edition.” Only 1,000 were made—and only 100 were released in the US.
Whitfield said as the viewer watches the video on PC, smartphone or tablet, there are 13 touch points that he or she can mark with an icon that appears at the bottom of the screen. Once the video is complete, each of those touch points unlock additional information about the whisky and the limited edition project with photographer Steven Klein.
“You can read more and see more photos about the content,” Whitfield explained. “It allows someone to cherrypick the bits they are interested in.”
Whitfield said this technology came about because the brand is trying to be different and innovate with new ways for consumers to engage more with the context. And so far, it’s working.
“We’re finding consumers are spending about 40 percent longer engaging with this touch video compared to traditional videos,” Whitfield said. “There’s a lot of interaction engaging with the content.”
Ultimately, all of this technology is helping The Macallan differentiate its brand—from the photography series in which a photograph inspires the ingredients and flavor of the whisky to virtual reality, where consumers learn about the long process (six years before the whisky even enters a cask to begin maturing) to the chat bots.
“We try to make people aware of the different styles of the brand, but also introduce different ways to enjoy it,” Whitfield said. “The goal is to make the brand more approachable.”