Cutting through a crowded whisky market by bringing the Sound of Islay to life.


Founded in 1883 on the remote island of Islay, Bunnahabhain is a well-loved and hugely successful single malt Scotch whisky, but it was finding its place in the market becoming indistinct.

Our task was to develop an iconic international brand campaign that would stand out amongst the myriad of whisky brands available and build engagement and trial.

Insight & Strategy

  • Differentiation in whisky is infamously hard to achieve. Play it safe by mirroring the category conventions and you just blend into the background. But position the brand in a wildly different and category-breaking way, and few will buy it.
  • Instead, success comes by achieving distinctiveness and association with certain well-chosen attributes. A location. A historical event. A moment of consumption. The trick is identifying which ones you can legitimately 'own'.
  • Virtually every whisky brand employs the same sensory approach - the sight of the golden whisky swirl; the ‘nose’; the touch of the whisky glass. However, no one had ever used the sense of sound…

Our strategy was to identify one simple big idea which could only be claimed by Bunnahabhain. A territory that could be executed in any market, any language and be understood by those without whisky knowledge. And a platform driven by a sense few had tapped into before. Sound.

Creative Solution

The 'Sound of Islay' is a narrow body of water that runs between Jura and Islay on the west coast of Scotland. Bunnahabhain is a name many struggle to pronounce. Islay is arguably the most desired and iconic of all the whisky regions.

This was a beautifully elegant concept, just waiting to be found.

The Sound of Islay

A multi-layered meaning, with a world of creative opportunities. A geographical location only they occupy. The region they wanted to highlight (and make a play of owning). Their name, tricky to many.

Then there was the sensory meaning. We used the real sounds of Islay to convey the story of the brand. We told the whole evocative tale by allowing consumers to, quite literally, listen to the brand’s provenance. 

The films sample sounds from the natural environment and Bunnahabhain’s distillation process throughout creating a unique mesmerising soundtrack, and use slow, lingering shots to immerse the viewer in the beauty of its landscape provenance creating a never before heard experience of whisky.

Creative Solution cont.

To further enhance the ‘Sound of Islay’ film we created a ‘Journey of Discovery’ film which introduced the various whisky expressions. This story was told through the eyes of the helmsman as his journey intrinsically lining it to the brand.

We also created a wider suite of content that covered tasting notes for the whisky, stills and behind the scenes films to create the most value from the content and be able to use it find our customers in their digital life.

Behind the Scenes


Unlocking a distinctive brand position for an iconic single malt.

Standing out in Scotch isn’t easy. Bunnahabhain needed an evolved brand position and campaign which reset it in the market. We identified a simple and elegant idea with layers of meaning, powered by a tool rarely used in whisky: sound. Then we brought it to life, everywhere.

Feel free to get in touch

We'd love to chat