Pretty models not included: Whybin\TBWA gives a nod to Westie grit in first Woodstock campaign

Walk into the average West or South Auckland bar, and you’re unlikely to find your Ponsonby-styled cardboard cut-out, featuring slim-fit jeans, pointy shoes and tailored suit jacket. What you are likely to find are a few Woodstock drinkers, who’ve seen some things in their day.

In its first campaign since winning the Independent Liquor account earlier this year, Whybin\TBWA veered away from the traditional advertising trope of conventionally beautiful people to instead celebrate the folks who actually consume Woodies.

Featuring striking portraiture by photographer Simon Harsent, the campaign lays bare the tattoos, wrinkles and beards of a collection of blokes, who’ve clearly walked some hard miles.

“You don’t see these kinds of faces on billboards,” says Whybin\TBWA senior copywriter David Sylvester. “None of them are actors. They’re not from your regular pick of agencies. We specifically set out to look for real blokes who’ve lived, and been through stuff… They’re real dudes. They’re not pretty models.”

Sylvester says the aim was to appeal to Woodstock heartland by showing imagery that consumers could relate with.

“I think one of questions we had from the start was ‘What do these guys aspire to?’ and it’s not some shiny picture of a wealthy advertising lifestyle,” he says. 

It has become something of trend in the industry to use real people rather than models or actors, and this creative approach is usually accompanied with online video telling the backstories of those involved (the recent Fonterra campaign by Colenso BBDO would be an example of this). However, Sylvester says there won’t be any video stories released with this campaign.

“We talked about that, and we thought about building some online presence on the background, but this isn’t an audience that’s going to go online and look into a story of a guy they don’t know,” Sylvester says. “It would be good for the agency to be able to show its credentials in doing that, but there would be no benefit to Woodstock Black.”

There certainly are enough videos strewn across cyberspace collecting digital dust, and Sylvester simply wasn’t keen to add another series of unwatched videos to the pile.

“This campaign belongs on the streets,” he says. 

“What’s much more powerful is getting these guys up on Adshels and billboards in West Auckland. That’s what’s going to work, because locals will look at it and go, ‘I’ve seen that guy around’ or ‘I’ve seen a guy like him’.”

The objective underpinning the new campaign is to draw attention to Woodstock Black, the more premium variant of the popular drink. And Whybin\TBWA senior planner Steve Clark says this is why it veered away from the usual tongue-in-cheek advertising that normally typifies the brand.

“This isn’t the Woodstock main brand,” Clark says. “This is a more premium offering, so we want to differentiate it. We’ve made a point of making it distinct.”

Clark says the aim of this campaign is to firstly to up-sell existing consumers to the more premium product, but also to add a perception of quality to the overall brand.

“It’s a four-year aged Bourbon blend, and because of that it allows us to raise the quality credentials across the portfolio for Woodstock,” Clark says.

Sylvester adds the target consumer is really the Woodstock drinker who has an appreciation for a quality bourbon.

“The guys who drink this, might drink bourbon at home out of a bottle and the idea is to get them to try this, because they’ll appreciate it and sometimes purchase it as an alternative [to a bottle],” Sylvester says.

The campaign rolled out this week, and will be visible across Adshels, billboards and bus backs.   


Client: Independent Liquor \ Woodstock
Marketing Manager: Giselle Bleakley
Category Manager – Dark RTD’s & Spirits: Laura Youngman
Agency: Whybin\TBWA
Campaign Title: Woodstock Black: There’s No Ingredient Like Time
ECD: Christy Peacock Senior Copy Writer: David Sylvester
Senior Art Director: Watchara Tansrikeat Senior Planner: Steve Clark
Business Director: Angelina Farry Senior Account Director: Amanda Green
Head of Creative Operations: Sheriden Derby Senior Producer: Mark Paisey
Graphic designer: Agnes Ang
Photographer: Simon Harsent

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