Probably more than a few older members of the polo club choked on their highballs when they heard that Dewar's was launching a honey-laced offering, dubbed Highlander Honey. After all, Dewar's has been around close to 200 years. And beyond its mass-market White Label brand, arguably America's most-popular Scotch Whisky, Dewar's also supplies limited quantities of its 18-year-old blend as well as the even rarer Dewar’s Signature. So, honey? Really? Of course, because young folks are the future of the spirits market and making things more "palatable" is a proven path to success. But how to launch such a product?
Well, hats off for what can only be described as an audacious initiative wittily dubbed the 3-B Printing Project, in which reportedly 80,000 bees (they counted them?) were induced to do their thing within a transparent whisky bottle replica. I say induced because as someone who has kept bees in his time, I can tell you that the little critters are somewhat like cats — you can't make them do anything they don't want to do. But by placing the beeswax framework within the bottle replicas, the bees have been apparently only too happy to do their thing, with the objective during the June-long initiative being to create two honeycomb sculptures.
According to Arvind Krishnan, VP Brand Managing Director, DEWAR’S, "The 3-B Printing Project is both symbolic of the craftsmanship that goes into making each bottle of the new DEWAR’S Highlander Honey and the modern attitude of our consumer – ‘the Drinking Man’ – who is intrigued by the innovation of 3-D printing.” Sounds good aside from the latent sexism that implies 3D printing is an exclusively male activity. Not to mention that Dewar's is apparently quite popular with women, despite its slightly strange "The drinking man's Scotch" tagline.
Marketing is a deep and mysterious game, no doubt about it. But bees know nothing of such things and until the end of this month you can view them happily toiling away on the Dewar's Facebook page and even enter for a chance at winning one of the bee-created objects. It all adds up to a pretty solid campaign. What's missing is the obvious opportunity for Dewar's to alert us to the global peril of bees, which are currently under threat from intensive farming practices. Leaving us with the ultimate message that it's okay to exploit nature to flog product while not lifting a finger to protect it. Leaving an aftertaste that's perhaps more bitter than sweet.