Guests became part of interactive theatre experiences in recent events aimed at introducing Bacardi’s line of the Last Great Malts in Western Canada.
To launch the line of five malts in Vancouver and Calgary, PR firm Pomp & Circumstance hired a theatre group, rented theatres and invited media, influencers, restaurant owners and bartenders. Upon arrival, they were invited on stage to be part of live performances that related to the stories of the malts – Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Craigellachie, Royal Brackla and The Deveron.
“We were kind of endeavouring to break the mold a little bit,” says Lindsay Mattick, creative director and partner at Pomp & Circumstance in Toronto. “Typically, there’s a formula as to how these events are done. We wanted to do something different.”
The goal of the program was to drive earned and social media around the west coast launch by introducing the malts in a memorable way, she says.
Mattick aimed to model the event after one she saw in the U.S. that took place in a rented loft space and featured actors in every room. But, the challenge was to work with budgets that are a fraction of those in the U.S., she says.
The agency hired a writer to draft a 45-minute play and three actors from the Toronto theatre troupe Illustrated Men to stage it.
Guests were invited to events two weeks ago at the Vancouver Playhouse and earlier this week at the Calgary Theatre Junction Grand.
Invitees received a branded box with a theatre ticket inside inviting them to the performance. When they arrived, they were given a program explaining the five-act performance. (Each act represented a different malt.)
“I will guide you through the secrets and histories of making suberb whisky. Tonight you’re going on a journey,” the narrator told the guests. “Along the way you’ll be delighted while your inhibitions will be challenged. In other words, take a cab home when we’re done.”
The narrator told the guests they were apprentices and their job for the evening was to learn the tales behind each malt. They were invited on stage to witness the live performances of the stories behind each of the five malts, with tastings for each woven directly into the script. At the end, the guests were invited to a bar on stage for additional tastings.
Mattick says the events were among the most ambitious and challenging in her agency career.
“Scotch aficionados know their stuff. You can’t do things that are trivial. You have to do things with authenticity and give people the education that they need,” she says. “What we were able to do was provide them with all of that education, but in a way that was memorable and entertaining and immersive. They were literally watching these characters paint a picture of the core stories behind the malts.”
Bacardi is looking at bringing the event to Toronto and it may roll out in the U.S. as well, Mattick says.