The Glenlivet has always had a rep for being visionary, but the legendary Scottish single malt whisky producer’s latest move—a campaign designed to break down age-old stereotypes about who the whisky drinker really is—is practically revolutionary.
What does a whisky drinker look like? Judging by billboards and online images, most of the people who are into this tasty brown spirit are a certain type: namely, wealthy-looking older gentlemen who really love their leather club chairs. Research shows that, when it comes to age, ethnicity, and gender, whisky fans are a diverse group and roughly a third of them are women.
To address this gap between image and reality, The Glenlivet recently launched #BreakTheStereotype, a campaign to finally put that old clichéed idea of the whisky drinker out to pasture. In its place, the Scottish producer has started to swap in images that celebrate diversity. And whisky, of course.
“The #BreakTheStereotype campaign continues The Glenlivet’s pioneering heritage and shows that we will never be held back by limiting preconceptions,” said Miriam Eceolaza, global marketing director of The Glenlivet and single malts at Pernod Ricard. “We know there’s a diverse range of whisky fans across the globe, and that continues to grow, yet the old stereotype surrounding whisky remains. Time for us to change that.”
Photographed by Devyn Galindo and Danny Kasirye for The Glenlivet.
This arguably overdue overhaul of the cultural imagination involves nothing less than infiltrating search engine algorithms and implanting images so that a Google Images search service reveals a wildly different visual landscape. Now, instead of those uniform images that’ve been associated with Scottish single malt for decades, a Google Images today reveals far more colourful results—a montage of unique and eclectic whisky fans of all genders from around the world.
The images are the work of two photographers, Danny Kasirye and Devyn Galindo, both commissioned by The Glenlivet to capture the spirit of a new generation of whisky fans. Kasirye, a Ugandan-British photographer and director, aims to bring a sense of purity, joy, and beauty to his visual art and subjects; California-based Galindo is a queer Chicanx artist whose work explores the intersection of culture, representation, and politics, and practises activism through art.
In addition, as part of its commitment to progressive change, The Glenlivet is partnering with Equal Measures, an organisation founded to deliver greater equity for ethnic minorities and marginalized groups in the hospitality industry. With help from Equal Measures, the forward-thinking whisky distillery is providing access to qualifications, mentorship, and opportunities for up to 30 participants from marginalized communities, to help them challenge the biases they encounter.
This kind of socially responsible move is very much on-brand for the nearly 200-year-old single malt distillery, whose founder George Smith, in 1824, became the first person in Scotland to apply for a licence to legally produce spirits—a move that didn’t earn him any friends at first. Smith could see, though, that things were evolving, and it was important to embrace the spirit of modernity and change.
“It’s critical that we do our part to better represent today’s whisky drinker, and our partnership with Equal Measures will help accelerate change for the better,” added Eceolaza. “The #BreakTheStereotype campaign celebrates The Glenlivet’s passion for challenging conventions and continues the innovative and original thinking of our founder, George Smith.”
Leading by breaking barriers, one image—and one bottle—at a time: that’s The Glenlivet way.