As winter approaches, we were recently involved in one final summer activation, an event that took in both the beauty of the Scottish highlands and the traditional elegance of some of Edinburgh’s finest buildings. A brand immersion event for 22 Russian bartenders, journalists and influencers that took place over two days; commencing in and around Dewar’s amazing brand home at Aberfeldy and concluding in the nation's best restaurants and bars in Scotland's capital city.
We were approached by the brand with a brief to deliver a full package of event support ranging from management of travel and accommodation, to videography and photography. All to budget and on a tight schedule.
Our first task was to arrange flights, transfers and accommodation for the 22 guests who would be coming from Moscow. We are very experienced and efficient when it comes to dealing with complex and unusual travel requirements, so we were able to quickly confirm flights that would get the guests to the Highlands in good time.
With the travel in place, it was time to ensure all other trip details were taken care of. The client had requested full photographic and video documentation of the trip, so we ensured that the group was accompanied throughout by experienced cinematographers. Various forms of catering were required, from a mountaintop barbecue, to a 5 course formal dinner in a luxury hotel suite. All needed to be booked and prepared in line with dietary requirements and the timing restrictions of the wider trip schedule.
With any event, but particularly one with this many elements, communication is key to maintaining quality. Therefore in the brief time leading up to the event, we were in regular conversation with the brand to ensure that we had everything in place to deliver this event to the highest standard.
We arrived at Dewar's Aberfeldy Distillery before it opened and were met by Kara Anderson (Brand Home Ambassador) and given our first glimpse of the new secret Scotch Egg Club Bar hidden within the distillery buildings. This space was to be the key base for the event over the following two days. After a quick read through of the day’s planned activities, we set about dressing the bar - not just making the space look visually arresting, but moreover, preparing every element ahead of time to ensure the smooth running of every session.
As the guests arrived, we greeted them from their bus and made introductions before leading them up to their first experience of the brand. This single malt tasting staged at the lush and tranquil Pitilie Burn water source, was the first of many beautiful locations visited over the two days.
After a brief lunch in the distillery, the guests were taken on a tour through the heritage centre and then guided through the distillery. Regaled with a wealth of stories from Kara Anderson, the tour finished in the casking room fittingly with a cask strength dram. From there, it was straight into the secret bar, where all of the preparation paid off. Guests enjoyed a sensory session designed to get them thinking about the complexity of flavours present in both blended and single malt whisky, which led straight into a cocktail competition. From the bartending contingent within the group, 5 volunteers competed to create mixology masterpieces based on the flavours they had just tasted.
After checking in to their loch side hotel, the guests were collected by Land Rover and whisked to the hilltop base of Highland Safari overlooking the Appin Valley, where they took part in some less traditional highland games including cracking open a scotch egg piñata and a three-legged scotch-egg and spoon race! Once they had worked up an appetite, participants were treated to a gourmet barbecue prepared on the hillside.
As the sun set on the first day, we all travelled back to the hotel in the Land Rovers for a well earned rest.
It was another early start for the RAWK team as we needed to be at the distillery prior to opening in order to make preparations for the day’s activities. As the guests arrived they were led into the secret bar for the “Liquid Story”; a tasting session that would take them on a journey through the process of creating blended whisky. The final session at the distillery was a blending session where the guests got the opportunity to learn about the delicate art of the master blender and create their own blended whisky.The visitors waved their last goodbyes to the highlands before embarking upon their brief journey down to Edinburgh. The RAWK team travelled on ahead in order to facilitate an early check-in for the guests and ensure that lunch had been prepared.
After an afternoon exploring the city, the group gathered in the hotel foyer before taking a short walk to our dinner venue on the corner where Edinburgh's Old Town meets the New, in the gothic splendour of The Balmoral Hotel. Following five delicious courses of traditional Scottish fare, we embarked on our trade tour, visiting some of Edinburgh’s finest hostelries and watering holes. We concluded at Panda & Sons where the guests sampled the huge range of cocktails and guest beers.
As time was called on our night and indeed on this fantastic whisky expedition, we chaperoned our guests back to their accommodation and bade them goodnight. However, it wasn't until guests were safely delivered back to Edinburgh Airport to return home to Russia, that we said a final farewell.
When asked for his thoughts on the experience as a whole and his experience of working with The RAWK Agency, Piotr Pieron, Bacardi's Eastern European hub brand manager had this to say:
Working with The RAWK Agency was truly a pleasure! They are not only great professionals taking care of every aspect of their job, but also fantastic and very likeable people, which to me is equally important. They were very supportive throughout the whole project and created a partnership working environment. What I liked in particular was their elasticity and openness – we worked as one team, equally caring about the final outcome. Excellent!
If you have an advocacy event coming up, or would like to develop your brand home experience, please don't hesitate to get in touch. We have a wealth of experiential knowledge and would love to assist you in driving experience as valuable part of your brand's marketing mix.
All imagery by Sean Dooley.