Diageo ties with David Beckham for new scotch whisky brand

Diageo has signed football icon David Beckham and his manager Simon Fuller to front the global launch of its Haig Club single grain scotch whisky brand.

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Diageo has joined forces with David Beckham to launch a new scotch whisky brand worldwide.

The variant has been created in partnership with the duo who will also play what Diageo says is a “fundamental” role in developing the brand’s marketing strategy and positioning. It will be promoted as “hugely versatile spirit” when it launches later this year.

The marketing strategy will involve touting the drink’s heritage as Diageo joins the list of alcohol maker’s emphasising the history behind their brands to appeal to younger drinkers. The spirit’s name is derived from its origin, the “House of Haig”, a 400 year-old dynasty of whisky distillers.

David Gates, Diageo’s global head of premium core spirits: “Whisky is experiencing a continued global renaissance and like many of the world’s most respected whisky experts, we believe this will be the year that grain whisky breaks into the mainstream and gains the recognition it deserves.

”Diageo has a proven track record in scotch whisky innovation and we have applied this expertise through the ‘House of Haig’ in liquid development and craftsmanship, creating a sophisticated new whisky in Haig Club.”

Beckham, who has never backed a spirits brand, will also lead the scotch whisky’s responsible drinking programme.

Diageo is hoping Beckham’s star power can help boost whisky sales as it looks to create new revenue streams from the category. The spirits maker’s Scotch whisky sales jumped 2 per cent in the six months to December but declined 4 per cent in volume terms.

It is not the first time Diageo has turned to celebrities to raise the profile of its brands. Earlier this year, it revealed plans to exploit the upmarket tequila category with the help of rap artist and entrepreneur Sean Combs. The Johnnie Walker maker has agreed a 50/50 tie-up with the celebrity to purchase ultra-premium tequila brand DeLeon in the hopes of repeating the same success both have had with Ciroc vodka.

Readers' comments (2)

  • Blend it like Beckham?

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  • Haig Whisky in an aftershave bottle.

    I can completely understand the temptation for brand owners to borrow packaging architecture from another category, but I believe Diageo decanting whisky into an aftershave bottle - and licensing David Beckham branding to try to make Whisky “cool and trendy” for a new generation - betrays a triumph of opportunism over consideration which can only destroy brand value.

    Putting aside whether it’s a good idea for children to see their dad pouring out a drink from an aftershave bottle (while their mum dabs a bit of Dior “Poison” behind her ears), Haig is one of the oldest and best known Scotch whisky brands in the world with one of the most recognisable bottle shapes in its Haig Dimple. However, this new bastard son of Haig goes far beyond “pricking the pomposity” of the old school and “having a bit of fun” by associating with those well know brand gurus David Beckham and Simon Fuller. Beckham of course is well known for being happy to put his name to brands – from underwear to phones to hairgel – whether relevant or not.

    Diageo owns an enormous portfolio of Whisky brands, and it is certainly tough to balance the need for innovation, consumer acquisition, and the responsibility to preserve its brands’ heritage and authenticity for the next generation. Haig has always been a very accessible easy-to-drink whisky so this Single Grain variant makes a good choice to target new drinkers, In this case however, it appears to have abandoned much of the brand’s hard earned brand equity in the hope of as quick win.

    The one bit of good news though is they may get some extra PR - as a new generation try to emulate Colin Smart’s infamous 1982 after-shave-drinking episode.

    Chris Collis is a CIM Chartered Marketer and Director of Marketing Walk Ltd

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