A Lesson In Cultivating Aspiration

After a short (just go with it…) writing break, I’m back, again.

And first up for your reading pleasure : my latest p0st for Advertising Week, a look at a great Scotch tasting I recently attending and how it did a great job of cultivating aspiration. Read it here and below.

(You can also read up on what I’m thankful for here. Spoiler: people and sugar)

And for your viewing pictures, a few shots from the event.

Fabulous nibbles to accompany the scotch.

Our take-home prize would later warm up the house nicely.

My lovely dates for the evening.


As most people my age can attest to, it is during our 20s that our tastes make a swift change from thrift-store-rescues to something of higher quality.

With newly acquired careers (or so we hope), parties to attend and people to schmooze, we become introduced to some of the finer things in life. We begin to acknowledge products we want, but don’t have the means to acquire — yet.

This makes a great audience for marketers – if properly handled, you can turn a crowd of 20-somethings into brand-loyals before their first purchase even takes place. I may not be able to afford a pair of Louboutin heels, but you can bet your first born my introductory pair is already picked out.

Aspiration is a beautiful and dangerous thing.

One must always remember: the path to exclusivity is paved with aspirations. Brands like Hermes and Maybach have made exclusivity work for them, but aspiration lends itself to the success of far more brands.

Aspiration will bring you consumers, rather than simply admirers.

It’s a tricky thing to perfectly balance the elements and bring your brand a sense of aspiration, but when done correctly, it is invaluable.

The Macallan is my example for the day.

A single malt scotch whisky, The Macallan is a cut above the usual liquor shelf stock – the oak casks used to mature the scotch are all hand-crafted or hand-picked and rented to Spanish sherry makers before returning to the Macallan distillery, offering a distinctive character to the single malts.

To help spread the word of Macallan, the Canadian brand ambassador was sent to host a few soirées in Toronto. Guests would be guided through a tasting, accompanied by some company history and the chance to win a bottle.

What really struck my interest with this event was the way in which everything was presented – refined and classy, but attainable.

The room was dimly lit, well furnished and impeccably staffed, but tables of 4 meant you felt welcome to converse with your friends. An impressive spread of fine cheeses and cured meats heighten the scotch tasting, but also offered a sense of luxury and a chance to exchange quips with other attendees while grabbing a snack.

The brand ambassador spoke highly of the product, detailing what exactly made it so special, but his sense of humour kept us from thinking we were in school. Anecdotes about having the best job in the world made us all smile at the fact that this evening was in fact happening, and happening just for us.

And while the event as a whole was wonderfully crafted, it was the smallest things that made me think about more than just this evening.

Two details in particular made this non-scotch drinker aspire to have Macallan as part of her future life.

First, our host mentioned that the house on the Macallan bottle has 3 rooms, none of which you can rent, but if you’re lucky (or nice to right people) you can be invited. And he left it at that. Open. We were left to think that maybe, just maybe, we could be invited to stay in the house on the Macallan bottle one day.

And the second stand out: the ice ball maker, a large copper contraption that whittles your massive ice cube into a perfect orb with a slower melting time than the cube. Cheesy, I know. But how many of us don’t love a little something to show off with during cocktail parties?

Again – it’s something that could one day be within our grasp. Until then, the idea is entertaining enough to make us want to talk about it. (Heck, I’m telling you about it right now.)

And with my date’s eyes glued to the ice ball maker, I realized that Jack, Jim and Johnnie were going to be making fewer appearances on our liquor shelf. The thought of our flight passes to Scotland resting next to an elaborate orb making toy on the mantle was enough to turn him into an instant Macallan loyal.

Every bottle purchased gets him closer to the dream.


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