We’ve just finished work on creating a raft of new beauty images for Glenfiddich, who we’ve worked with for nearly a decade. As part of the project, I’ve spent more time than might be considered normal researching what makes a luxury alcohol beauty image work.
First things first, what is a beauty image? My simplistic description is – an image of a product shown in its greatest light.
I’m not talking advertising. Nor a simple product shot used for trade (like you see on shopping websites). What I mean is a representation of a product that not only looks seductive, but tells a unique story, whether in an abstract or a more direct way, and projects the right attitude and personality of the brand.
Luxury brands do it best. Watches, cars, perfumes, jewellery, heck, even bicycles. And the alcohol industry is no different. If you want people to spend thousands of pounds on a rare bottle of spirits or Champagne, it’s got to look the part.
Beauty imagery for the drinks industry needs to be many things – emotive, thought-provoking, inspirational but above all memorable, especially in the perpetually busy bar and retail environments where it will invariably live. And the lifespan of an image is surprisingly long, so beauty imagery needs to be done right the first time or the brand will suffer in the long term.
These are our Top 10 beauty images picks (in no particular order) in the luxury alcohol industry. Oh, and here’s a link to an article about the
latest beauty imagery we’ve created for Glenfiddich (they’re pretty good).
Chivas 18 Year Old
Product: Chivas 18 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky
Story: The 18 Year Old is a complex whisky, with many different facets, which inspired their communication line, ‘Every taste a new experience’.
Power: I love this beauty image. It’s quite old now, but it’s still powerful, urban, feels fresh and contemporary and neatly encapsulates a single-minded idea. I’ve referenced it many times over the years when discussing beauty imagery.
Product: Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque Floral Edition
Story: Perrier Jouet worked with Japanese flower artist Makoto Azuma to create this floral work of art. It was made from a single delicate botanical arabesque dotted with white Japanese anemones, and was inspired by the original 1902 Perrier Jouet bottle design.
Power: Lovely, isn’t it? It speaks of craft, beauty, nature and delicateness.
I love that it uses a different medium – flowers – and they’ve interpreted an Art Nouveau design in such a fresh way. It’s definitely feminine but so OCD perfect that it’s somehow masculine too.
Product: Courvoisier XO
Story: The XO is one of the finest in the world. A banquet of intense flavours coming together to excite the senses.
Power: This image exudes luxury. It captures the intensity and power of the cognac, heralding a true firework of aromas. The image was inspired by Courvoisier’s brand essence at the time, ‘revolutionary spirit’, and was brought to life in a stunning and unexpected way (using an angle grinder to produce the sparks!). Full disclaimer: The agency Purple (where I work) created it with photographer Tim Hogan.
Product: Absolut Unique Edition
Story: A pioneering bottle printing technique makes every bottle of Absolut Unique an original – with its own numbered label – so each has a different colour, pattern and design.
Power: This is a clever beauty image take on their long-running campaign, which has always featured their iconic bottle shape. This well-constructed shot feels innovative, fresh, dynamic – almost scientific – and tells the story of the idea in a visually arresting way.
Product: Glenfiddich Rare Collection
Story: Glenfiddich’s Rare Collection features a rare vintage whisky, which will change every year, presented in a beautiful Italian hand-made leather box – that’s been abstractly brought to life in this image.
Power: As an image, I think it’s astonishing. Totally different, it’s natural, contemporary and dynamic, the undulating shapes drawing the eye in to the bottle. It makes what is essentially a static box (albeit a posh one) into something exceedingly sexy. It also showcases the warm copper and white new brand colour palette. Full disclaimer: Purple created it with photographer Ted Humble-Smith.
Product: Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin
Story: Part of their Inspired By campaign, this is called Brilliant Botanicals by artist Tord Boontje. Originally an installation, he laser-cut the botanicals from a single sheet of stainless steel to reflect the delicate flavours, adding blue Swarovski crystals.
Power: This is beautiful – a real work of art. Elegant, delicate and wondrous, and somehow incredibly soothing. Your eyes don’t know where to look. You know from the first glance it’s Bombay Sapphire – they’ve built up a very recognisable brand colour palette.
Product: Johnnie Walker Explorer’s Edition The Royal Route
Story: The whisky was inspired by the royal trading route, famed for bringing luxuries to the world, like precious silks, Persian ornaments, diamonds and pearls that were traded along it.
Power: This tells an amazing story! The whisky may be inspired by an old story but the beauty image is bang up-to-date. Modern, premium, thought-provoking, mysterious, luxurious and a bit sexy. It’s pitching Explorer’s Edition as an essential travel item – and giving you a glimpse into the sophisticated lifestyle of the drinker.
Product: Dom Pérignon Vintage
Story: There seems less of a story here – it’s not a smoky Champagne – but it uses back-lighting and colour in a spectacularly enticing way.
Power: How dynamic, mysterious and mesmerising! But also slightly sinister – a shot I can’t seem to get out of my head. It just looks amazing.
Product: Piper Hiedsieck Bodyguard Rosé Sauvage
Story: Inspired by the flexible and protective crocodile skin, Piper have created a luxury rosé Champagne encased in faux croc. A Nile crocodile was scanned for 12 days before the image was laser printed onto a steel mould, which was then filled with molten latex. The skin also keeps the bubbly cooler for longer – just like a real reptile.
Power: It’s got a damn crocodile in the picture! It screams luxury and preciousness, and the hooked tail around the bottle hints at protection.
Product: Rémy Martin Louis XIII Le Jeroboam
Story: This is a blend of over 1,2000 rare cognacs from Grande Champagne, now in a Jeroboam. The shape of the decanter is an exact replica of a metal carafe found on the site of the 1569 battle of Jarnac, and it took five kilos of crystal to shape it!
Power: I worked on the Rémy Martin brand for four years, so I’m quite keen on the product. This image is powerful – more art sculpture than product shot. The gorgeous glasses represent the new size of the decanter – but also the hundreds of delicate notes and aromas found in the cognac. The colour of the liquid is amber gold, and so alluring, especially set against the monotone background. Overall, an image worthy of a spirit selling at about £25,000!
By Jamie Fleming