Heineken UK wanted to launch a spirit-flavoured cider, Blind Pig, under the radar. In keeping with the new brand’s prohibition-era inspiration, it wanted to build a fanbase through discovery and recommendation rather than the usual routes of high visibility and distribution.
In a nutshell, Blind Pig cider didn’t want fame, it wanted infamy; only to be found and recommended by the right people in its first year of life.
Any activity had to be associated with a speakeasy sense of 1920s fun-loving rebelliousness, but firmly rooted in the hot-off-the-press now for a very niche audience, all without revealing too much about the product ahead of time or appearing disingenuous or try-hard. Difficult when you’re one of the world’s largest brewers!
So we developed the Blind Pig Collective: a set of up-and-coming designers, artists, filmmakers and photographers at the heart of the creative community.
The Collective members were provided with product and a brief – to use the brand’s ethos and origins as a basis for original creative works in their chosen field. The Blind Pig Collective produced 9 separate pieces of original artwork, including an original short film. The Collective’s photographer also created the very first set of product photography for the brand.
In short they were a conduit to influence the influencers, giving the brand credibility we couldn’t imbue by targeting the audience directly.
We launched with a private view of the Collective’s artwork – driving coverage and telling the story of Blind Pig’s ethos in a very cynical and discerning set of individuals and media – securing a bulls-eye influencer attendance via the Collective’s social circle. Between them, they helped us ensure 54 target demographic influencers at a secret launch event, including VIPs such as The Libertines in addition to a wider target audience and 28 media from target publications and blogs such as Vice, Wonderland, FanTheFire, ThisThatNow and Clash.
With kudos firmly established in London, we proceeded to host a series of influencer nights in key cities across the UK. “Drinks brand sponsors night” was too blunt a tool for this particular brief however – big brand behaviour was out of the question. So instead we identified influencers in each of the three key cities Blind Pig wanted to infiltrate, and gave them free rein them to throw the party instead.
As a result the good people of Edinburgh were treated to a sartorially slick party in a disused biscuit factory hosted by the impeccably turned out Scot Street Style; Leeds played host to an evening of Blind Pig inspired delicacies and fashionable foodieism arranged by Bear’s Pantry and The Maven; and London swung into live band action at the Duke of Edinburgh organised for us by Itchy Feet complete with bespoke artwork and light rigging.
In each case the consciousness of a new, local audience was quietly infused with the spirit of Blind Pig, paving the way for larger-scale activations in following years.