The romance of it all – a striking black and white banded lighthouse (the one above) in a photograph taken from a different angle, atop its dark cliff, under lowering skies, with dark blue water and green-veined white surf crashing on a reef, with, in the bottom right hand corner of the frame, the warm orange glow of a bottle of Talisker, Diageo’s single malt Scotch whisky from the Isle of Skye. Beside it the words ‘Made by the sea’.
The tangle o’ the isles in every pixel, the force of the elements, the explicit seduction of danger, the heartfelt warmth of the dram – this, a new £1.5 m poster campaign for Talisker, is powerful stuff.
Diageo’s ad agency has had a field day: ‘The campaign, … Talisker’s first global activity, will play on the brand’s maritime associations’ with its ‘made by the sea’ theme.
With Skye an iconic Scottish island and Talisker a famous single malt whisky, the lighthouse will be that Scottish masterpiece of engineering by the legendary Scottish Stevenson family at the nearby Scottish landmark, Neist Point, on the island’s west coast. Won’t it?
Well, actually, no it’s not.
Here is the Neist Point Light on Skye. And the one in the ad poster is certainly not in Loch Harport, home of Talisker distillery. Indeed, it is not even anywhere near Skye.
It is a stock photo taken by Frenchman,Jean Guichard, of Le Créac’h lighthouse on the Ile d’Ouessant, off the French coast of Brittany – truly ‘highlighting the whisky’s provenance on the Isle of Skye’.
In the pantomime of this promotional campaign, all we can say is: ‘Oh yes it is’.
And it gets worse.
In an article published back in July 2009, we showed how the international drinks conglomerate, Diageo waxed lyrical – and misleadingly – in overseas marketing campaigning on its maturing of this same Skye single malt Scotch whisky, Talisker.
Advertisements gushed that Talisker was: ‘‘lashed by the sea spray of the west coast’… ‘sea air’… ‘gives its powerful marine character’, ‘influenced by seaweed and pepper’.
But the whisky is matured in Central Scotland / East Kilbride and gets no marine influence at all.
We said at the time that: ‘Diageo are on record as saying it makes no difference where whisky is matured and that statements to the contrary are a lot of nonsense. (In Andrew Jefford’s eye opening book: Peat Smoke and Spirit, P 285) This kind of deception leaves the public overfed on fictional romance, misled and starved of awareness of the reality of how the major part of the industry operates’.
And here they are, at it again – implying that Talisker breathes in the tang of the west coast seas off Skye where in fact, it coughs in the carbon emissions of the central belt.
This is blatant misrepresentation – you could plead ‘artistic licence’ were it not for the place of maturation of the malt. Scotland is ruthlessly exploited by the tax-evading, Johnnie Walker Kilmarnock-bashing Diageo.
Respect? Not a jot.
The photographs illustrating this article show:
- Top, Le Créac’h lighthouse on the Ile d’Ouessant in Brittany, by copyright holder, Flore Allemandou and reproduced here under the GNU Free Documentation licence.
- Above, the Point Neist lighthouse on Skye, by copyright holder, Folork and reproduced here under the Creative Commons licence.
Note for photographers and lighthouse buffs: Check out Jean Guichard’s photolibrary for some unforgettable images of lighthouses. Prepare to spend serious time here.