The Drum Awards Festival - Official Deadline

-d -h -min -sec

Food and Beverage Plant Based Family

Forced to think outside the cup

By The Drum, Administrator

May 29, 2008 | 4 min read

With England not at this year's European Championships, brands need to be even more creative to capitalise. Kevin Bird, creative director of Scottish agency Family, offers advice from a nation that's been there before.

When the European Football Championships came round in May 2004, this was the situation Scotland found itself in.

The prospect of a whole month of football, being played out on ridiculously big TV screens in gloriously heaving public houses, and no one to support, was too horrible to think about.

“Why don’t we all get behind England?” asked Gary Lineker. Aye, right.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, Burns Stewart Distillers, the makers of Scottish Leader Whisky, asked their Edinburgh-based agency Family to help them, and a nation, find a solution.

How could they connect customers of their “beautifully blended” Scotch whisky to the euphoria of Euro 2004?

Family’s strategic minds were assembled. Three Englishman, a Welshman, an American, and two Scotsman, to be exact. An extensive brainstorming session ensued.

Many intricate and fascinating marketing solutions and insights were discussed and challenged, until finally, about an hour after last orders, a conclusion.

Well, more of a tired outburst really.

“Support Latvia!” shouted the lateral thinking Scotsman.

“Why?” asked a puzzled American.

“They’re not England.”

The English creatives and the Scottish accounts team smiled knowingly, and nodded simultaneously. A good strategic thought born from a simple human truth. Some brutally honest, if less than complimentary headlines about England’s finest footballers, and some cracking art direction later and Scottish Leader’s Euro 2004 campaign was launched.

The client loved it. But would the supporters support it?

Our POS posters had to be reprinted...twice, the Tartan Army were taking them from pub walls to put up in their homes. A stunt involving an open top bus, and eleven Latvian footballers complete with dodgy mullets and moustaches toured Glasgow and Edinburgh.

It was seized upon by the media who loved it. It gave them something to focus on rather than a footie tournament without their beloved Scotland. Oh, and of course, we were having a pop at England.

The Scottish public seemed to love it too. They cheered, waved, and hooted their car horns at the “Support Latvia. They’re not England” campaign bus.

T-shirts, key-rings, flags, you know, all that stuff that clients love, well, so did everyone else apparently.

My favourite bit came several months later sat amongst European’s marketing elite at the EPICA Awards. (We were sat on the front row next to the Honda Grrr creatives – exalted company indeed.) As the posters were announced, they appeared one by one on the big screens.

Would the Euro audience understand them?

Would we go down like a Brotherhood of Man (so to speak) or a Jemini? Sometimes these things just don’t translate.

Slowly but surely the whole theatre began to genuinely laugh, applaud and then actually cheer at the executions.

They understood them. And being great marketeers, understood how we had turned around a potentially impossible brief into something that worked.

Tricky brief

The last sixteen of Europe’s football elite are gathered again. This time, disaster of all disasters, England haven’t qualified.

Clients will want to be part of it. What do you do? How do you make the best of a tricky brief?

So far, Mars, one of the bigger sponsors, who are already out there with their “Never mind let’s have a kick-about,” seem to have it spot on. A bit of empathy and a free giveaway. It worked for Scottish Leader.

I’m looking forward to seeing how the campaigns have been tackled nearly as much as the footie. If only we’d qualified.

Food and Beverage Plant Based Family

More from Food and Beverage

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +