Rogue Society Gin has changed its name to Scapegrace by Rogue Society Distilling Co after a stoush with the European Union.
The change has been marked by a refreshingly honest advertising campaign shot by Motion Sickness.
Narrated by David Dallas, the one-minute sport tells of Scapegrace’s dealings with the European Union and its consequential renaming. The viewer moves from world maps to blackboards full of brainstorms as the audience is told about the company’s battle with higher powers, whilst being reassured that the gin and “even the bloody bottle”, are staying the same.
Rogue Society Gin was launched in 2014 by Kiwi trio Mark Neal, Richard Bourke and Daniel McLaughlin. The brand quickly gained traction, becoming New Zealand’s top-selling premium gin and scooping up international awards in the process.
Fast forward to 2018 and the brand is experiencing international success. Its core range is stocked in Australia’s largest retailer, 7-Eleven, it’s the fifth highest selling imported gin in the UK after just 12 months, and it has just signed a national distribution deal in the US with the largest American distilling company, launching in 10 states then rolling out over time to the remaining 40.
But it hasn’t been all smooth sailing to this point. When the team set their sights on the European market, trademark laws involving a similarly named US brewery product forced them to make a decision between changing their name or staying local. “When that happened we thought ‘right we’ve got two options,’” said Rogue Society co-founder Mark Neal, “we trade under two brands to the whole world or one brand to half the world.”
So, after the American brewing company refused to change the name of their ‘Rogue’ beer, Neal said they made “the bold call” and took their gin to the EU under another name – Scapegrace Dry Gin – giving overseas customers a chance to enjoy the “same drop” in the same classic bottle, without the legalities or confusion.
And with a loyal customer base, Neal said the team wanted to be 100 percent up front and fully disclose the reason for the rebrand.
As for how it’s been received, Neal said the response over social media has been “absolutely fantastic”, a relief for the co-founder, who joked that the process felt similar to renaming a child.
Motion Sickness founder and creative director, Sam Stuchbury saw this as an exciting opportunity to take a transparent approach to marketing.
“A lot of consumers have been with them since the beginning,” said Stuchbury, “so we wanted to be honest, tell them the truth and it was a really interesting story, so why not make the most of it?”.
Stuchbury attributed the success so far to New Zealanders’ appreciation of up-front honesty.
“I think there’s something to be said about laying everything on the table.”
While the original name and black tinted bottle was a salute to gin’s mysterious history, Scapegrace upholds the mischievous character as an 18th-century synonym for ‘rogue’. A name, according to Neal, took over six months and thousands of ideas to find.
“We wanted something that was better than Rogue,” he says.
“Scapegrace felt really good, it was close to the DNA of the brand and its values”.