Ben and David - Brand Edge

Case Study - Whyte & Mackay

Advertising campaign development –
Whyte & Mackay whisky


This case study demonstrates…
a) our ability to define and position brands, even within generic markets
b) the trust our clients put in us
c) our ability to work with clients and their agencies to activate positionings and campaigns


Whyte & Mackay is the UK’s 4th largest blended whisky brand, with The Famous Grouse the market leader.

Whilst Whyte & Mackay consistently outperforms competitors in blind taste our research revealed a lack of connection between brand and audience and in particular, perceptions of harshness which were inhibiting trial of the brand.

We worked with Whyte & Mackay to develop and shape a new brand positioning which provided the fuel for a new communications campaign in 2015.


1. Brand positioning

Our research led up to identify a bullseye target drinker who is very comfortable in his own skin and who actively embraces the idea of blends as a tonic to the perceived pomposity and complexity of malts.

So we had a real opportunity to champion the blends category whilst highlighting the link between Whyte & Mackay’s triple matured distilling process and a uniquely smooth liquid.

2. Agency selection

As a result of our knowledge of the brand, Whyte & Mackay asked us to manage an agency pitch process. Following chemistry sessions, a short list of 4 agencies was compiled and each was briefed in full by Brand Edge.

Throughout the creative process, we acted as an interface between the agencies and client. This continued following the agency appointment and, through sharing our knowledge of the brand and target audience we helped shape the campaign – a route using visual metaphors for smoothness and the line, “Surprisingly smooth”.

3. Creative testing

In order to assess the target audience response to the new creative work, Brand Edge conducted focus groups across the UK.

Subject to some development work, research showed we had a central campaign idea that had the potential to punch above its weight in terms of impact as well as having strong levels of engagement and great brand attribution.

4. Idea amplification

Next we ran engagement workshops with the key agencies (ATL, digital, PR and activation) to ensure the campaign had genuine 360 potential and that the investment at the front end was complimented by strong thinking and performance at the business end.


TNS tracked the campaign.

It performed incredibly well with Campaign “Recognition” excellent.

“Consideration”, becoming part of the “Repertoire” and “Brand Advocacy” scores also all improved.

Over half of the all respondents spontaneously mentioned “smoothness”, there were good improvements in the scores for the perceived taste of W&M, and almost 70% took a quality message from the campaign.

Tracking showed the campaign created a real “buzz” around the brand and there were consequent positive movements in the perceptions of value for money.

The ad was also recognised by Campaign magazine…they rate it in their top 10 of out of home ads for 2015.
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