How Fever Tree showed up Dry Martini at Goodwood Festival of Speed


I visited Goodwood Festival of Speed last week and it was fascinating to observe a number of premium automotive and drinks brands in action. It’s an event that has always celebrated fast cars and luxury lifestyles with bubbles. Martini Racing and Moët & Chandon have been at the heart of the high end action for decades and Goodwood FOS is known to be the event that lets enthusiasts feel the dream. So surely the priority for the brand managers laying on these events has to be the brand experience.

This year was particularly notable for how open access the Porsche brand has become, providing entertainment for kids on the stands as much as the adults. Fusing gaming and racing with in car experiences, Porsche did what it does best and got everyone involved. McLaren combined supercar aspiration with a full size Lego car you could help build on the stand in exchange for a £1 charity contribution. Innovative, playful and involving.

As for Fever Tree – I practically had to fight my way to their G&T Tour. A two-story stand with gin mixing magic, crowd bursting queues and friendly faced folk. Fever Tree was undoubtedly the party everyone wanted to be at both online and off.

Which left me wondering how the well established luxury brands like Ferrari, Moët and Martini were performing. Ferrari displayed its supercars in a cordoned off stand and received maybe one visitor; The Martini Drivers Experience required guardianship by a bouncer, yet they were totally empty. Moët, however, was perhaps the saddest sight of all, accommodating one elderly chap amongst 30 empty tables and chairs. So what went wrong?

It’s obvious that luxury brands are built on exclusivity, but some are starting to just feel excluded. No matter how well established they are as brands, without active and involving brand participation audiences will find them irrelevant and go.

In our social media fuelled world of accelerated content and consumer empowerment, getting your audience to be your brand ambassadors is pretty much the only thing that matters. Engaging with online influencers and securing promotional deals early on is key to amplifying your brand pre- and post- event. Hosting an outreach programme online for the masses and tying this in to pull people onto the stand ensures a busy and popular brand experience at events like FOS. It buys more bang for buck and feeds the rich content machine for the weeks that follow.

Something McLaren tapped into, Fever Tree nailed and Porsche wrote the book on. These brands got people to dance on their stage, play with their toys and sit in their cars. The result was pics, tweets and shares by popular influencers like Shmee150 and Solomandrin, as well as thousands of engagements with Joe (public).

By being relevant their brand amplification, McLaren, Fever Tree and Porsche will have outstripped their stuffy peers and with it they’ll have opened up a new set of fans and a wider set of future customers. That’s brand building 101, and it’s a lesson brand managers need to take on board. A brand that excludes may be exclusive, but it’s a brand that’s dead.