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The Curious Commutes of Hendrick's Gin and Space | #BehindTheIdea

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Have you ever found yourself in a gravity-defying bus stop, with upside-down bottles, roses and Victorian surrealism? Thanks to Space and their work for Hendrick's Gin in selected UK locations, you just might soon.

As restrictions begin to relax, Hendrick's Gin has launched a new OOH campaign to encourage commuters to escape from the conventional across London, Manchester, Brighton, Cardiff and Liverpool. The campaign takes over bus shelters to evoke a sensory experience through iconic brand visuals, blending Victorian and post-modern, roses, cucumbers and bottles of gin.

Today we are getting Behind the Idea to learn more about this intriguing campaign with Greg McAlinden, Executive Creative Director at Space.

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What was the brief?

Hendrick’s is a beloved brand, but finding new ways to attract and keep attention, especially in the gin category where hundreds of new brands pop up every year, is essential. And with many of them drawing inspiration from Hendrick’s themselves, continuing to evolve their brand world helps drive relevance in a busy market.

In our work with the brand over the last few years, we’ve looked to do this at every opportunity; exploring all the different forms the brand world can take, to help make every interaction an experience in some way. One that will lift the mood without disrupting, and reward curiosity with a distinctively “peculiar” take on the everyday.

As the country ventured out again to rediscover things we’d missed, Hendrick’s were keen to re-assert this personality in brightening up some of the more mundane things.

The brief was to land their brand world through a series of curious OOH takeovers across the UK. So, how do we transform one of the most mundane parts of our day and make it unforgettable?

How did the initial pitch/brainstorming phase go?

We wanted to find an insightful way of reflecting these discombobulating times positively, without getting too serious about it. To reach people on a sensory level but simple, relevant, and fun. There is no fun, or value, in being conventional.

Our “Upside Down” idea did this simply: flipping Hendrick’s’ brand world on its head to defy gravity and create something familiar yet unexpected. From here, all the brilliant extra detail that makes these experiences so much fun was worked through in partnership with the client.

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Tell us more about the concept. How did it come to life, and why was it the right choice?

We work to the principle that breaking the right conventions will drive memorability and resonate more powerfully with people. And these sites gave us the opportunity to go beyond what you’d normally expect from a branded takeover like this.

Each takeover was as immersive as possible, designed around the specifics of the individual site. They featured upside-down ‘living roofs’ made of roses and cucumbers, and the scent of the brand’s signature rose and cucumber. A doorbell invited people to ‘Press for Peculiar’, triggering a character monologue about peculiarities of travel. Messagesappeared throughout the scenes, designed to reward the curious with fun bits of detail.

The centrepiece was a 3D Hendrick’s bottle, continuously pouring real liquid into a glass of  Gin Cucumber Lemonade, the brand’s hero summer serve. 

What was the production process like? What was the biggest challenge?

Execution across multiple cities and translating the creative onto bespoke shelters. 

The spec for each bus shelter was different and with so many different elements to consider (i.e. vinyls, audio, doorbells, showcase, roof gardens), it became quite a production operation making sure each element was correct for each bus shelter.

Ensuring the creative detail wasn’t affected by location took a massive effort of collaboration. Working alongside the OOH media agency, our creative and client services team had to get into the extreme detail to pull each shelter off. But, when you look at some of the in-situ shots, you can see the effort was entirely worth it.

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What is one funny or notable thing that happened during the production of the campaign?   

The timing for the live date was the day of the Euros finals. We had to push back putting up the first bus shelters to the middle of the night, to ensure they weren’t destroyed.

And… we had to reject the first living roof due to cucumbers pointing upwards at just the wrong angle… 

What’s the main message of the campaign and why does it matter?

Creativity has a home anywhere, and Hendrick’s Gin are invested in finding the peculiar in the everyday. The work is about that, and reflecting the moment in time to appeal to our curiosity as we venture out again. 

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What is one unique aspect of the campaign?

Fast Company described it as: “Why U.K. bus stops suddenly smell like roses and cucumber... Hendrick’s turned a smelly piece of infrastructure into an aromatic ad for its gin.” 

How long did it take from inception to delivery?

The shelters will be live across various London, Manchester, Brighton, Cardiff and Liverpool sites from 11th July to 5thSeptember. The initial brainstorming process began in April, with the client giving the green light on the concept by mid May.

What do you hope it achieves for the brand?

Hendrick’s Gin wants to be at the heart of premium culture as we regain our curiosity. We’ve sought to achieve this by highlighting their hero summer serve in a unique way, positioning them as an experience brand again, and reappearing with something unconventional and fun that appeals to the imagination and raises a smile.

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Credit list for the campaign?

Client - Hendrick's Gin
Brand Team- Caitlin Robertshawe, Lucy Emery James Keen, Charlotte Philips & James Taylor

Agency - Space
Executive Creative Director - Greg McAlinden
Creative Team: Georgina Martin, Daniel Finn, Gem Hagan and Matthew Broad
Group Account Director - Yasmine Mael
Account Director - Louis Collin

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