In the relatively short 16 years, the Glasgow International Comedy Festival has managed to consolidate its position in a competitive market, while retaining its truly Glaswegian heart. This blend of international and local would obviously appeal to Whyte & Mackay blended whisky, the festival’s new headline sponsor.

Part of the Glasgow landscape since 1844, the Whyte & Mackay name has been synonymous with having a rather good time for almost 175 years, so working with the Glasgow International Comedy Festival is, as they say “a perfect blend”.

The Herald:

In any festival the headline sponsor needs to be on the same wavelength. Whyte & Mackay has shown that humour is as much part of the brand as its enviable reputation in the blended whisky market. Even with its market share, Ruairi Perry as Head of Blended Whisky Brands, is impressed at the reach that partnering with the comedy festival gives them.

“From a brand point of view, the festival gives us so much reach. The coverage is phenomenal - not only in Glasgow but beyond,” says Ruairi.

“It ticks all the boxes for us. As a whisky brand we can increase our profile, visibility and appeal to younger consumers in the places where people are going to see comedy. Working with the Glasgow International Comedy Festival is a perfect fit for us.”

The timing is also good, according to Ruairi. At Christmas and New Year there is always a push on spirit sales, but to have the opportunity to promote the brand in this way at this time of year is ideal.

The Herald:

Whyte & Mackay has a long track record of humorous campaigns. Last year, its partnership with the British & Irish Lions tour of New Zealand in 2017 yielded a series of hilarious and good-natured videos, with the campaign aided by comedy duo Link and Lorne.

The videos played on the fact that the team is made up countries that would normally be at loggerheads on the pitch.

“We had a lot of fun with that,” adds Ruairi. “There was huge coverage obviously, with the four nations that make up the British & Irish Lions included. It showed that no matter, humour unites us all. I think we’ve been successful in setting ourselves apart from the other big brands in our category by using humour, especially to engage younger consumers. We’re from Glasgow, so humour is in our DNA.”

The Herald:

When it came to sponsoring the Glasgow International Comedy Festival, the canvas to use humour was the whole city.
This year, many of the comedians taking part in the festival have committed their jokes themed around “A lion walks into a bar… “ to video for the whisky’s busy social media channels.

“We have also taken over many of the most iconic buildings facades with giant mural projections,” adds  Ruairi. “We used the existing murals that are painted around the city, photographed them and pieced them back together as a story, then projected them back on to some of the city’s favourite and well-known buildings Our creative agency ‘Punk’, came up with the idea, it brings Glasgow to life in a very clever way, the resulting video is ideal for social media”

When it comes to promoting the drink itself, there has been a new long serve drink created for the festival. Based on a traditional Highball, this is a ‘Whyte & Mackay-ball’. Using the blended whisky, it is topped up by tonic water, with Angostura bitters and a slice of orange.

The Herald:

Staying creative is essential in a spirits market that has witnessed the advance of gin over the past years. “It is incredibly competitive now,” he adds. “As a business we have a huge portfolio of spirits, including single malts, a new blended malt, vodka rum, gin, liqueur so, it is very important we continue to support our award winning blended whisky.

"Of course we are looking to appeal to younger consumers and to get them to maybe try blended whisky for the first time – the triple maturation makes the difference – it provides a lovely surprisingly smooth whisky."

The Herald:

To Ruairi, there was no point becoming involved if the brand couldn’t add something and help bring the festival to life.

“It’s an incredible event. It only seems like a few years ago that I saw Kevin Bridges in a pub for £7. Those are the experiences that stay with you. The festival has that great mix of big names and the new talent that will be the big names of the future. As a Glasgow brand we are delighted to be part of it.”

The Whyte & Mackay Glasgow International Comedy Festival runs until Sunday, March 25. Click here for ticket details