The power of storytelling revealed in a fine Irish drop

April 28, 2015Uncategorized

What’s your whiskey tale?

King Content is all about storytelling, and so I’m going to tell you some stories,” says the perfectly waist-coat clad Irishman (in that universally appealing dulcet accent), before ushering us to ‘nose’ the whiskey he’d just handed us.

It is a Thursday evening in New York City, the late April wind still blustery enough to chill the bones, and making the intimate group all the more glad to gather in the glowing warmth of Tribeca Grand’s exquisite Church Bar.

The night, April 23, officially marks the launch of King Content’s New York office, our fifth globally. We have, together with partner NewsCred, gathered a select crew of marketers from industries ranging from finance (leading banks and insurance companies) to retail (top beauty and fashion brands) and including tech, e-commerce, CPG, health, media, liquor and not-for-profit. We are all there to celebrate the power of storytelling. And to experience it first-hand, of course.

“So from where does whiskey originate?” master Irish storyteller Ciaran O’Donovan of Pernod Ricard questions. Despite almost breaking down over shouted answers of “Scotland”, rather than his beloved homeland, Ciaran goes on to tell equal parts funny, equal parts intriguing tales of the history of the amber liquor.

Did you know, with a license to distil Irish whiskey from 1608, the Old Bushmills Distillery in Northern Ireland is the oldest licensed whiskey distillery in the world? And did you know that here in the United States whiskey was used as currency during the American Revolution? Or that the whiskey excise and the Whiskey Rebellion of 1791 contributed to the formation of political parties in the US?

Heck, who even knew there were so many diverse types of this supposedly simple, distilled alcoholic beverage?

Ciaran takes us through some of Pernod Ricard’s finest – from Jameson Black Barrel, with its notes of exotic fruity sweetness, to the almost sherry-like Redbreast 12 and on to the spicy, honey-flavored Powers Gold Label. He regales us with tales and history of each before allowing us to nose and finally sip them. Each drop tastes all the more intriguing for the stories that precede it.

In a mere 20 minutes, Ciaran has artfully educated many of us, who’d previously not much of a clue between whiskey and bourbon, let alone between a single pot still and a small batch grain. In the time that it takes to sip a classic Old Fashion, Ciaran has – ever so subtly – shown us first-hand the power of storytelling to bring a brand or product to life, to make it all the more meaningful and, ultimately, desirable.

As one guest eloquently puts it, as we retire to hear the jazz band in The Lounge, everyone chattering 10-to-the-dozen about wanting to try more whiskeys; asking where they can get their hands on their favorite of the samples:

“Imagine if he’d stood up there and said, ‘I’m here to sell you Irish whiskey. I have all these bottles, different labels – 25 per cent off, who wants them?’ We’d mostly have turned our heads back to our wine and conversation. But instead he captured 100 per cent of our attention with highly engaging, entertaining stories, helped truly experience the tasting and – whaddya know – in the end made just about every single one of us want to buy whiskey, without overtly spruiking a single drop!”

And thus, the centuries old art of Irish storytelling is alive and well and a perfect reminder of how brands can, to this day, creatively leverage one of the oldest arts of all to add meaning, experience and desirability to their product or service.

What’s your whiskey story? Who’s your John Jameson? Do you have a rich history or is your new freshness indicative of your potential to make history? Every brand, service and product has a story. Who are your people? Where did you come from? What’s your cultural significance/relevance (beyond the immediate realm of your own product/service)? Where are you going?

Just remember to keep true to who you are, find your own voice, stay authentic and don’t let the corporate red tape of ‘correct messaging’ strip the passion and realness from your stories.

Trust us, the whiskey tastes so much smoother and creamier filled with the stories of its origin, history, all it’s been through to be there in the glass in front of us. Would a non-descript tipple at 25 per cent off taste as good or be as valued?

King Content US Inc is open for business, helping brands throughout the US find, tell, distribute and measure the value of their stories.



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