The moment a friend shares an intimate story or detail about their life is a powerful one. It’s the kind of connection that draws people closer, that deepens relationships, and often happens over drinks. And it’s the kind of connection that sits at the center of "Single Stories," a brand content campaign from single malt whiskey brand The Glenlivet that features successful men sharing a poignant moment that was instrumental to their success.
A vignette series airing on SundanceTV, "Single Stories" features award-winning actor Bryan Cranston, director Ed Burns, chef Eric Ripert, designer Andy Spade, and Warby Parker founders Neil Blumenthal and David Gilboa. Cranston and Spade both reflect on how the divorce of their parents deeply affected them, whereas Burns recounts sage career advice given to him by his father. Blumenthal and Gilboa discuss the importance of transparency, and Ripert shares how a single phone call changed his life. All of them reveal a personal insight that seems both genuine and incisive.
With this work The Glenlivet is trying to build brand equity and a distinctive personality amongst novice single malt drinkers. Troy Gorczyca Senior Brand Manager, Pernod Ricard, says the goal of the series was to "showcase their triumphs, admit their failures, and highlight the moments that make us human." The campaign was created by Vizeum—the agency of record for The Glenlivet’s parent company Pernod Ricard—and The Story Lab, which was brought in to help execute this intimate and human moments.
"Regardless of our differences, stories unite us around our common, universal themes," says Lisa Eisenpresser, co-lead and head of development at The Story Lab. "Based on the insight that The Glenlivet gentleman preferred one-on-one drinking occasions and wasn’t using social media unless it proved meaningful, we created a content series that would appeal to this discerning man."
To make the films authentic (and dodge the common pitfall of faux-authenticity common to many branded content initiatives), Eisenpresser says stories were completely unrehearsed. "We had one call with each of the talent where we described the concept, tone and goal but asked them not to share exactly what they might want to talk about prior to the shoot," says Eisenpresser. "We wanted the experience to be just like the ones we have in our own lives when we sit over a drink with a close friend and process moments of our lives together. When you talk with an intimate friend, your guard is down and you are able to articulate things you may never have before. This is often when we connect to those moments of universal truth."
The quest for this universal truth seems to have resonated. Eisenpresser says membership in The Glenlivet’s loyalty club, The Guardians of The Glenlivet, has increased as a result of the series, and the social media post introducing the content had a highly successful share rate among loyal brand drinkers.
This, says Gorczyca is the personal connection the brand was trying to create with "Single Stories." "[The campaign] tells the true, authentic story of accomplished men in the world of entertainment, food, business, and design. They reveal pivotal moments in their lives, and share the wisdom they've gleaned from these moments with complete candor and sincerity."